Why do we think it’s cool to not pay attention to each other and listen to the stories we have to tell?
I am a culprit of this. I’m afraid anyone who has grown up with tantalizing screens and websites has also been a repeat offender. We want to seem busy and occupied. That is a sign of success, right? If we are always busy and never bored, then we look like we are accomplishing something. Many of us, including myself, have unknowingly trained ourselves to be more entertained by a screen than the words and stories of our dearest friends.
We crave close companionship. We go to parties, excited to interact with many people in close proximity. But we may never let our phones leave our grasp. There are countless times when a friend has been telling me a story close to their heart, and my mind will wonder. My hand will find its way into my pocket, pull out my phone, and begin scrolling on the screen. I despise it. I despise myself like this. Why are we like this?
I now have witnessed what it is like to truly listen. For those of you who do not know, I am living in the beautiful town of Decorah, Iowa this summer. These last few days, I have left my phone behind; there is no service where I am staying. The internet has been a beautiful treat, not something I am in constant connection with. And I have felt what it is like to listen and be listened to without distraction of technology – a beautiful, beautiful thing.
What makes humans different from other species is our ability to be in community together, to groupthink, to sympathize. We are meant to support each other. If we truly were animalistic beings only out for ourselves and our own survival, things would have come together so very differently. But here we are. We must not forget what makes us so special.
My hope in these coming days is to leave my phone behind, to listen to people’s stories and take what they say to heart. Remember: your phone is there for your convenience, no one else’s. Even if I do not live in this environment forever, my hope is to continue to be truly present in my surroundings and to closely listen to people, whether they are my closest friends or people I just meet. We all have stories to tell. Let’s fight the battle and listen.