I’ve been observing a change in recent months — or even years. Burn marks are forming on hands, and the edges of the phones are beginning to form groves. As I watched my daughter’s gymnastics meet, many — almost half of the spectators– were electronically distracted. Perhaps I’ve become a bit out-of-touch (or should I say out-of-iPod-Touch). I’ve always thought of myself as a digital pioneer. I’m an information technology teacher; I’m always looking to use the latest tools. But nothing has been so shiny new as this change I’ve been observing in my students, these spectators, and families. This shiny new has given me a finger-print smeared outlook on interpersonal relationships.
During the gymnastics meet, there was the group of siblings in the corner of the gym: one on a laptop, the others on iPod Touches or iPhones. Honestly, I don’t think they looked up from their screens during the entire meet. Then, a mother typed on her iPad, and then held it up to video-record her daughter. What she didn’t see were the 3 observers in the row behind her that could not view the performance except for the scene on her iPad screen.
Growing up, I remember being present in situations like this where everyone followed along, watching every detail. It was just as important to see the other performers as it was to follow the performance of your own family member. Learning the craft gave birth to an appreciation for the victory in the end. It may be obvious to some that it is acceptable to be somewhere else while in the presence of others.