Last week I went to my second-favorite place to write, Starbucks. Someone was at my table (can you believe it?) so I had to set up my writing area at the massive tall table in the middle of the restaurant.
There were three girls at the end of my table. One of them was in my line of vision.
She was about twelve.
She was quiet, oh so quiet. I watched her out of the corner of my eye as she used her straw to slowly play with the whipped cream on her iced coffee.
The girl did not speak. She just played with her drink. For a long time.
Wait a minute. She was one of three. Why was she looking so utterly dejected?
I glanced up at the other girls.
I stopped typing and just sat, taking in this ALL TOO FAMILIAR SCENE.
My heart broke.
I wanted to walk up to the trio, go over to them and just engage in conversation. I wanted to say, “Sweet girls, I cannot help but notice that this girl over here is dying to talk with you. She wants to be with you. You just spent five bucks on a coffee. Enjoy each other.”
Actually, that’s the nice version of what I wanted to do.
My real? I wanted to walk up to them and say, “This is so jacked up.”
What was the third girl feeling? Less than.
And she was being taught that true engagement is via the phone, not with people.
How will this play out in their relationships? How will this affect their ability to TALK and ENGAGE and BE with others?
I don’t know about you, but when I was growing up, I was taught this skill: When you are talking with someone, engage with THAT PERSON. Look them in the eye. Ask them good questions.
And don’t, no matter what, scan the room looking for others.
BE TRULY, AUTHENTICALLY ENGAGED WITH THE ONE YOU ARE WITH.
I may be sweating.
Lori is a little fired up right now.
Don’t you think we should TEACH OUR CHILDREN SOME BASIC RULES of PHONE ETIQUETTE?
- When you are with a real life person you don’t have your phone out?
Simple. Elegant. Easy to remember.
Real Person = No Phone.
I get it. No one wants to miss a text or a tweet or a snap.
But you know what my phone has? It has this super cool technology. It records everything that has happened in the hour or two that I have not looked at it.
Isn’t that amazing?
And when I do look at it, it’s like Christmas.
I don’t MISS anything.
I think back to Starbucks.
How would it have changed that girl’s entire life if those two slightly older girls would have paid attention to her? Better yet, what kind of magic would have happened in her heart and soul if one of those girls would have received a text but said, “Oh, darn phone. I’ll get to that later,” and put her phone away and then, oh my stars, ENGAGED the girl in meaningful conversation?
What message would she have received?
YOU ARE IMPORTANT TO ME!
What a LIFE-AFFIRMING, LIFE-GIVING, LIFE-ALTERING MESSAGE!
We can do better. As parents, we can do better teaching simple humanity skills to our children.