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By Jesse Utz 

Let's get unplugged for a moment


Recently, two girls at Lake Roosevelt High School sat in the cafeteria during lunch. They had been having a really good discussion as they munched on their chow of choice when one of them looked up at the other eaters in the room. They were amazed and their eyes were opened to a very common phenomenon that is sweeping our country. Every other student at every table was looking at the screen of their device. No talking was taking place. All zoomed in to whatever event was happening on the screen at the moment. The two girls pointed this out to each other and both made a decision at that very moment — to get unplugged. To only use their phones to connect when absolutely necessary. And, above all else, to communicate with people face to face.

This is happening everywhere in America today, and more than likely around the planet. Games, social media, Snapchat and whatever new apps out there have invaded and are winning the war for our attention. I, too, have found myself at home, with the TV on, my wife in the room and my attention is on my phone. Blocking out everything else and focusing on the not-so-important trend engulfing me.

Remember the family dinner from way back? “How was your day?” “What happened at school today?” “How was work?” All questions from our past that open the doors for conversation. The kitchen table was the place where decisions were made, forgiveness asked and vacations planned. Many a talk was had there and during a “Family Meeting.” Relics from the past as we now send simple texts back and forth, with the only emotion shown coming from an iconic smiley face or other symbol.

What happened to talking? Sitting on the front porch with a cool drink and actually talking. Having real conversation. Now we cannot even think for ourselves as we Google the answer for everything. Even when we know the answer. We are immersed in information coming from thousands of sources at the same time, affecting our attitudes, lives and relationships. And many of those sources not even factual.

So I challenge you to get unplugged. For at least an hour. Sit down with your kids, spouse or parents and just talk. Tell each other what’s going on in your life. Start building relationships again. Have dinner together with no phones, devices or headphones. Learn something about each other that you never knew before. It may be awkward at first, but eventually words will come out and lives will be lived. Not looking down at a screen but up at the world and friends and family that will truly help us when we need it.

I, too, will be unplugging. No more Facebook. No more unnecessary texts. I will seek out the person I want to talk to and have a real dialogue. Time to start showing real compassion and listening to those who need. It is also time to share with the growing generation about personal experiences that have shaped our lives. Time to be real.

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