I’ve become acutely aware of this phenomenon (perhaps more of an evolution) of how we are treating our text messages compared to the activity we’ve chosen to be involved with.
As the intimate setting of a singer/songwriter concert begins, people in the audience are texting away, the blue glow of their screen illuminating their faces. Isn’t the reason we came to this venue is to listen and appreciate the words that the songwriter has worked so hard at crafting? Isn’t the band playing for our enjoyment and this is why we’ve chosen this performer in this club on this night? Yet, I see fingertips tapping away on the cell phone.
Or get this: once a week, we choose to worship at our local church where Sunday morning service begins at 9:30am. We’ve had time to have coffee, perhaps breakfast. We’ve watched the morning news. We’ve read our email. We’ve made your plans for the day and coordinated with friends and family. Yet as the service begins, someone is still texting away. Worse still, the low buzzing sound of a vibrating phone muted so as not to disturb the congregation causes the lady in the center of the church to get up and exit to the rear so she can discover whatever this urgent phone call is about. Really?!
Do you mean to tell me that after choosing to worship for one hour on a Sunday morning, we’ve lost the ability to stay focused on God? Wouldn’t it be justified to turn the cell phone off completely so you can concentrate on God? Let God handle our world for one hour all by himself? This church service was our choice in the first place!
I don’t care if you’re a doctor or a policeman or a teenager – it can wait! Turn it off. Ignore it. Don’t respond to it. Don’t read it! Focus on where you are. Pay attention to what you are doing right now and the reason you have chosen to do this. Just because the phone buzzes or sounds your text message tone, you can decide NOT to answer it. And decide not to reply either!
Pay attention to the concert. Pay attention to the show. Pay attention to the traffic. Pay attention to the loved one trying to have a conversation with you. Stop texting for just a little bit!
An ambulance siren, a baby crying, a firecracker, an announcement over the school PA system…none of these evoke the urgent response that the text message tone does. We respond immediately, don’t we? I do too!
We have to stop it. We are losing the connection of living in the present, of being alert and staying focused on where we are and who we are with because we must….answer that text! We have to stop it!
Look around you no matter where you are. People are texting and immediately responding to a text they’ve received. Look what we are becoming. All priority and all importance is given to the text message. Lower priority is paying attention to a priest or pastor. Lower priority is having dinner together or watching a TV show with family, with giving undivided attention to loved ones or with staying focused on God for one uninterrupted hour.
I’m preaching to myself as well. I’m guilty too. I hate it but it’s true. We all have to stop it!
Let’s all choose certain places, with certain people and with true intent to turn it off, to not answer, to not reply and instead be totally present wherever it is that we are. With whoever it is that really matters to us.
Turn it off. It is a lower priority. We can un-train ourselves so that you don’t immediately look to see who texted us. None of us are that important. No level of communication is so important that it can’t wait for one full hour to address.
What priority do you give to a text message?
Watch what happens the next time you hear your text message tone.
What’s our real priority? How have we let ourselves be trained?
It’s a shame, isn’t it.