With earnest and thoughtful eyes, the young woman began her story. I could hear the pure earnestness in her tone as she shared. But none of the girls around her seemed to be listening to her tale of infatuation, betrayal, and heartbreak.
They were too busy.
Looking at their phones. (And apparently their eyes had become glued to those precious little devices.)
Don’t get me wrong. I love my smartphone. I love that I can text, make calls, go online, play games, make notes, and set timers all in one portable device.
But when we use our phones rather than pay attention to the people we are with, we communicate that we care more about our phones (and ourselves) than them.
I know that’s a cliché, over-used statement.
But it is so unbelievably true.
Trust me. I am guilty of doing this countless times. In fact, I feel guilty every time I pull out my phone while I’m with my family.
But I do it anyway.
We do it anyway.
We play the now-socially acceptable social media game and pretend like we absolutely must respond to those around us.
After all, we cannot ignore our online friends and followers, can we? That would be rude and unbiblical…right?
We cannot claim these excuses any longer.
Are Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter so important that we must shun those in our very presence to respond to those who we don’t even know? Are they so important that we must neglect those around us who are crying out for attention and in need of a listening ear?
Can’t that message, post, or picture wait for just a few minutes?
If I pull out my phone while I’m listening or talking to you, I immediately make you feel disrespected and neglected.
I see parents staring at screens while their kids are talking to them, and I see kids staring at screens while their parents are talking to them.
I’m truly saddened by this behavior, but I can’t point my finger because I am one of those kids. I’m not proud of the disrespect I’ve shown to my parents or the rudeness I’ve had toward my friends. But I am guilty.
I have to say this, however:
It makes a difference when you listen and when you pay attention. It makes a difference when you smile, nod, and join the conversation.
Instagram can wait. Snapchat can wait. Twitter can wait. Facebook can wait.
Social media will go on with or without you.
You may have a thousand followers or get millions of likes on your posts.
But that does not make you a kind or selfless person in any way.
Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:1-4 NASB)
If I could share just three points from this post, I’d tell you:
1. Try to keep your smartphone in your purse or pocket while others are talking to you unless it’s an emergency. (For example, it might be a good idea to call 911 if your friend starts choking on his burrito. 🙂 )
2. Be fully aware of and interested in the people around you to show you care about them.
3. Demonstrate your interest by interacting with and listening to others.
Be “intent on one purpose” (Philippians 2:2). That purpose isn’t checking every single text message you receive. It isn’t getting a hundred Instagram followers. It isn’t responding to every single Snapchat you get.
It is serving Christ by serving others.
We can serve others by making them more important than ourselves, and we can start by putting away our phones and caring about what others have to say.
Think about it this way: We can be a light to the world by simply turning off our phones.
Why? Because people in our society are most certainly not going to neglect social media to listen to the broken. But we can be different and shine brightly simply by looking people in the eye and paying attention.
Be different. Shine brightly. Be intent on serving the King.