This post is a Tuesday Tip.
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Several weeks ago, I was riding the commuter train into Chicago. I was raised amidst farmland, and trips into the city still give me butterflies. So, as the train approached the Loop, I put away my phone and prepared myself to disembark.
I gazed out the window into the crumbling industrial district on the western edges of the city. My eyes were drawn to the side of a large, forlorn building, where a billboard had long ago been painted onto the brick façade. The paint was faded and chipped and I squinted to read the words:
I wondered to myself why the advertising space had fallen into disuse.
Until my gaze returned to the inside of the train.
Where almost every passenger was looking into their laps. Staring into their mobile devices.
We can’t even be advertised to communally anymore. Because we’re all looking down, inward, nurturing our customized lives. Is it any wonder that we get used to having what we want, when we want it? Is it any wonder we end up isolated and lonely? Is it any wonder every other person begins to feel alien and other?
What is the answer? To download a social media app?
I don’t think so. I think the answer is to look up again. I think a sense of community thrives on everyone looking at the same things. And we are losing that ability.
So, today, look up.
- Leave the phone at home. Wait for the panic about that to pass, and then just do it!
- As you go through your day with your eyes up, attend to the people who are passing in and out of your life.
- Give them names. If you have any kind of opportunity, actually ask them their names.
- Tell a story to yourself about who they are and what they’ve been through today. Make them come to life again in your world.
You may just feel your heart breaking open for people again. You might discover they are the same kind of different as you.
Question: When you put your phone away and attend to the world, what do you enjoy about the experience? What makes it hard to do so? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
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TUESDAY TIP DISCLAIMER: The Tuesday Tip is not professional advice. It should be read as you would read a “self-help” book. For professional and customized advice, you should seek the services of a counselor, who can become more intimately familiar with your specific situation. Counselors can be located through your insurance network or through your state psychological association website.