Now here is something I have struggled with for the longest time. It started with just emails at night and on the weekend before there was a blackberry and the palm pilot was king. Now with the rise of social media networks like Facebook and Twitter and devices like the iPhone… They all rule the virtual world from the palm of our hand.
But when the virtual world takes over our real world… are you present? Are you engaged in real life? Are you constantly looking down at your phone for the next twitter message or text message from a friend?
How long is your attention span really… Is this your addiction?
A dear friend called me out a couple of years ago when a bunch of us were out at dinner. I was checking my phone and sending text messages. Later she told me she thought it was rude and thought real conversations were worth the time and effort to be in the moment with friends and that I could play with my phone some other time.
She was right.
So ever since then, it’s been something I’ve been working on… I’m a social media relational guy!!! I love being connected, but not as much as being connected in real life conversations and experiences.
Now I’m to a point to when I sit down with someone face to face – the iPhone goes in the pocket or face down on the table so I can’t see what is popping up on the screen.
Sure, there are appropriate times to check texts, emails or send out a twitter update when in the presence of other people… especially if something happens that is “twitter worthy”. But for the most part, when I am in the presence of friends or family or in meetings… I want to be fully present and fully engaged in the conversation.
Is this you? Do you have this problem too?
I have certain friends I can be with where twitter and texts is perfectly fine until we get into real conversation. Then it all goes away.
In fact here are a couple of things I do that help.
- Turn the phone on vibrate and all text messages to silent. This means I can feel the phone when a call comes through but when a text pops up I won’t know it unless I actually look at my phone. Otherwise my phone will constantly be buzzing and that’s only good if you really like the feel of a good phone buzz.
- Turn twitter ‘off’ so that it doesn’t come in as a text message. I do this for Direct Messages as well. Just text ‘off ‘once to twitter and messages will stop. Text ‘off’ to twitter again and Direct Messages stop as well.
These two points help me stay focused in conversation and doesn’t distract anyone else in the process.
Sure… I may miss a lot of what is happening online in the process… but it’s worth it.
I can always go back to my phone and check messages with an iPhone app that allows me to see twitter replies and Direct Messages so I can respond later.
So tell me… What do you do to stay Present in the conversation? How do you stay focused and fully engaged in conversation when you’re your virtual world is just one text message away?