I’m sitting in my bosses office earlier this week reviewing a few issues and discussing the status of a few projects. During that time he checked his iPhone for messages twice. Once he rolled over to his desk and actually responded to an email. “I’m listening”, he says. “Continue”.
Yesterday afternoon I met a coworker for a beer before heading home. I was anticipating a text message from Carrie so I laid my phone on the table. My coworker was talking about some of the struggles she is having in her new position and how hard the adjustment has been. Right in the middle of a moment when she was opening up, I picked up my phone and checked it. She stopped talking and waited for me to finish. “I’m listening”, I said.
Am I? Am I actually listening?
If we were sitting in a coffee shop right now together and you pulled out a book and starting reading while I was telling you a story about my life, I would be offended. And yet, that’s essentially what I do to you when I check my phone for a text during a meeting. Have our lives been reduced to notifications and alerts so much, that that is the only way we now know how to communicate? Are we so bored with each other and our lives that we can’t give each other the attention that we all desire?
Being in the moment and paying attention to the people and events that are around me right now is the most important thing I can do. The people that I live and work with deserve my attention. What they have to say is important to me. They are important to me. Being present is about love and respect for the people that are a part of your life.
No iWatch for Me
Devices like the iWatch or the Pebble or any of the Android devices worry me. A friend of mine has a Pebble watch and I frequently catch him checking his wrist as he gets a mail notification, or a tweet, or a text. I was paying attention to how he interacts with this a few days ago and during a 15 minute session that we were working together he looked at his watch 10 times. Yep, 10. We were working on a software project together that required concentration. There is no way you can concentrate on something if you are looking at a notification on your wrist every 1.5 seconds. But wait! The iWatch can do so much more!
I get that some people need (or want) to be this connected. This is not a value that I subscribe to. I am already too connected and I already have difficultly managing the technology in my life. I don’t need another device interrupting me. I love the people in my life too much to give what remains of my attention away to a computer.