Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Present of Presence

I was reading an article today about weddings, and the unfortunate trend of guests being too focused on their devices to actually enjoy the ceremony. Some people who attend weddings have a fire & desire to be an amateur photographer. They basically sabotage the professional photographer's chances to get good photos because they are in every corner, popping up to snap pictures for the bride and groom. Most times they are using a pocket camera or even their iphone. They actually show up in the photos taken by the hired photographer, which often ruins the capture of those special moments that can't be redone.

Not that anything is wrong with those cameras - heck I have a pocket camera and use it often. And not that anything is wrong with people taking pictures at weddings - because this is not what I'm trying to talk about today anyway.

The point of the article was this: in today's world of technology, we are so attached to our devices that it's all too easy to forget how to be present in an important moment, like a wedding. I absolutely agree and it's given me pause to think about it more.

It has almost become inconceivable to not include our devices in our daily activities. Nay, it is unimaginable. When is the last time I left the house without my phone? When is the last vacation I took when I didn't pack my laptop? When is the last time I went a day without logging in online? And I consider myself a lightweight - I don't actually own a smart phone, so I can't check in with Foursquare or upload photos to Facebook while I'm away from home.

This continuous connection with all things technology made me wonder: am I present? Am I missing things that I won't be able to redo later? When my kids are playing the Wii and really enjoying themselves, I'm missing those smiles on their faces. I'm missing the interaction they have with each other, playing together as teammates, because I'm checking my facebook status updates. When my kids are asking me to make them lunch, I often put it off until the last minute because I'm reading an online forum or editing photos. Instead of fixing them a healthy lunch I end up warming up leftovers or popping open a can of Spaghetti-O's.

I'm not writing a "woe is me" post; I'm just recognizing that what the author of that article had to say about guests at a wedding - that they should just put down their phones and cameras and enjoy the day to celebrate with people they love - could be interpreted for me as well. As a mother, how many emotions do I miss because I'm too wrapped up in something more urgent but FAR less important?

Isn't the best gift I could give my child, the gift of my presence and attention?

Texan Mama


Ellen Stewart (aka Ellie/El/e/Mrs. Seaman) said...

Agreed. This summer, I am working to choose a day to NOT be on-line. So far it hasn't happened. And I don't mean one day all summer, I mean one day a week.


Hyacynth said...

Ok, yes. 1000 times yes. I think about this all of the time. Am I too engaged in too many things at once to enjoy any of them. And those phones! Gah! They are so addicting. {Though I do put mine away for ceremonies like weddings and stuff.} Good stuff, here, friend.

Beth Zimmerman said...

Amen! To the Nth power! We NEED to purposely unplug some times so we can fully connect to what's really important!

Lex the mom said...

I agree completely about so many people not being present. It's been a concern of mine for a very long time. It's a shame about the wedding thing - I haven't been to very many weddings. I can tell you, if I were the bride & it happened to me, I'd be pretty miffed about it.

I feel like I'm present every day, most of the day. I hope that I am not deluded. I guess we'll find out when the kids grow up. ;)

Gigi said...

I spend a lot of time with the computer and I'm ALWAYS connected to the Blackberry. But with that being said, whenever there is an event, I put both away. It doesn't matter if the event is casual - such as a friend dropping by or a wedding...because I want to be present in the moment and I'd like to think I'm fairly successful at it.

nicole said...

Oh my, what a timely post. As we are in week three of summer break I am all too aware that I'm not giving my kids enough of me and it is showing in their behavior.

I had to leave my phone at home a few weeks ago when I went to a Rangers game with my husband. Our sitters didn't have a phone and we don't have a landline. I am embarrassed by how lost I felt without it! I would like to say it is because my dad and I send texts to each other when we're at games and I missed that, but that is not the only reason. I just wanted my phone. Ugh.

I go a little crazy when I see someone whip out a phone at church. My MIL uses hers to follow the readings at Mass, but we have missals for that! I think it would just be too easy to go ahead and check your email and whatever, you know?

Ellen Stewart (aka Ellie/El/e/Mrs. Seaman) said...

Thinking about this more today...I wonder if pastors will start telling people to put their phones away. They do at regular services.

Or perhaps the couples being wed will do so? Or ask that they not take pictures?

We were at a wedding once where the minister told the real photographer (in the middle of the ceremony) that he was bothering her. I hadn't noticed him. My husband, a minister, was so upset by this. He makes a point of telling the photographer to get any shot wanted. It all zooms past in the blink of an idea, pictures DO preserve it.

But the rest of us should leave it to the pros.

Jennifer said...

This is a big problem for me. I do have a smartphone so I'm constantly connected. And I'm sure you saw the photo of the four of us (David, the kids and me) all piled on the bed with David and I both on our computers. I'm obsessed with checking my email and I upload photos a lot. Sometimes I stop and wonder if I'm missing the moment by trying to capture the moment. If that makes sense. I know that it is something I need to get some control over, but I still don't make an effort to do it.