The past few months I have done a type of social experiment.
I've observed people in group settings, I've watched people in one on one situations, and I've observed my own interactions with people.
My conclusion? Social media and having technology at our fingertips is turning us into a rude, narcissistic, and absent society.
I'm guilty of this (or, I was more guilty of this before making my observations. I'm much better now, but I'm sure I was pretty awful before).
Here are some examples of things I've seen.
1. I'll be at the park or playground with my kiddos. Around me are kids playing and having fun. While the kids are playing, the parents have their phones out and are simply not present. While their kids are begging for mom to "look at me!", they get unenthusiastic "That's nice" without even a glance up. That's super hard to observe, and even harder when I realize that sometimes I'm that person. I'm sure that whatever is going on on Facebook is simply not as amazing or interesting as the fact that our kids are experiencing life right in front of us.
2. Date night. Sam and I haven't been great about date night lately. Part of it is simple busyness, part of it is tight finances (do you know how much it costs to get a sitter for three kids? Yikes!!), and part of it is just how fast things are flying by. The other night I was out with friends and I saw a couple sitting at dinner. They were young, probably in their late 20's/early 30's and it was a nicer place. But, this couple both had their phones out and weren't even talking to each other. No conversation at all. I am super blessed to have a hubby who puts his phone away and looks me in the eye on a regular basis. But, the more I see, the less people are actually engaging with one another. We prefer to be online, passively living life.
3. Finally, group settings. I am noticing more and more that people don't interact with each other face to face. I teach Junior High regularly, and the students that have phones will sit next to each other and text other people. They don't talk to each other, they don't ask how each other are doing, they sit on their phones or listen to their ipods. But, it's not just Jr. High students. I went to the movies the other night with a large group of women. We were there early (about two hours early) and a friend and I observed the the majority of the people in the theater were sitting on their phones and not talking to the people who were sitting with them. It was actually frustrating because the whole reason I went to the movie was to hang out with people I don't normally see, but most of them were disengaged).
It's sad. It's sad because I'm noticing that we (as a society) are becoming satisfied with shallow relationships. Facebook gives us a small glimpse into someone's life, but we think that by looking at their short updates we know everything about what is going on. Not many people are willing to go deep with people, and we don't let people in to the deeper, gross parts of our lives.
Plus, when people try to speak into those gross parts of our lives, we push them away and think that they are judging us, when really we are trying to be genuine friends.
Or, we do what is called "vague-booking". Where we put something on our status such as, "I hate the world. You know what you did wrong to me. Why can't you grow up?" And then tell people to mind their own business when asked what's wrong, instead of saying to someone's face, "Hey, you know what, when you said that thing you did, you hurt my feelings." We don't know how to have real relationships anymore!
All of that to say. Lately I have been very intentional about how I spend my time. I have been present with my kiddos, I've been present with my hubby, and I'm trying to be present for my friends. I realize that friendship is more than liking something on Facebook or writing a quick note on a wall. Friendship is getting in the trenches with our friends. It's listening to their hearts, learning what makes them tick, and being there for them.
It's putting the phone down (even texting during face to face conversations), and listening. It's being present and intentional.
I feel like this is a bit disjointed, but it's a blog post that's been rolling around in my scattered brain lately.
On another note. The rumors are true! We are currently expecting our 4th little one, due the beginning of July, 2013. I believe this will be the final installment of the Grummons family, but we are excited. I was hoping to tell people before it went on facebook, but Sam outed me before that could happen, so I hopefully got everyone. I did tell people at the movies, which was nice because a lot of my favorite people were there that night. :) I'm currently feeling super tired and slightly sick, but the heart beat looked great and everything else is on par for the course. The older boys are excited, and Benjamin has no idea that his throne as the baby is going to be overthrown. :)