There’s nothing in the world I enjoy more than spending time with my grandchildren. In fact, when they are visiting, I often make it a point to make sure they “unplug” from their many high tech devices, so we can engage in meaningful conversation and share in creative activities that spark their minds and imagination. During my granddaughter’s last visit, I was intrigued as I watched her little nimble fingers tap away on her smart phone; she’s just ten years old and she knows far more than me when it comes to computers and gadgets. As she showed me her latest photos on Instagram, she turned to me with a serious expression and asked, “Mimi, did you have a cell phone when you were my age?”
In reality, I didn’t even get my first cell phone until after opening Pure Romance in 1993. This really got me to thinking about technology and its many benefits, but also about how it often interferes with very important interpersonal experiences and communication skills. For younger generations who have grown up during this era, the electronic world is second nature. They may be able to write an eloquent text message, or calculated, well-thought-out email, but how do they respond in a face-to-face interview? Some stumble on dates and just day-to-day conversation because they haven’t learned a very valuable lesson: sometimes you have to “disconnect to truly connect.” Below are some of my thoughts on how we can improve our most significant relationships with those who are most important to us.
Be Present. We have all met that person who insists on texting through dinner with family or a friend, or even worse, on a first date! I’ve experienced this first-hand at Pure Romance events where I’ve sat with a group of Consultants and am surprised to discover some of the people sitting toward the end of the table with their heads buried in their phones. They were so immersed in their virtual life that they were missing out on REAL connections that could be made right there in the present moment. Who knows what kind of valuable lessons they could have learned to improve their business by simply turning off their phones and reaching out to a Consultant next to them. Also, even though we were able to have dinner together, it didn’t allow me to get to know them on a more personal level.
Write with a Pen. Before Email and E-cards, people actually sat down and wrote heart-felt Thank You cards and letters. Taking the time to actually sit down and write a letter on (gasp!) paper with a pen during the age of the computer speaks volumes to the person on the receiving end. It is inexcusable that there are actually schools out there that have stopped teaching cursive altogether, and even if you don’t have the greatest handwriting (guilty as charged) the authentic approach is better than the rushed and haphazard any day. Writing love notes is especially a great way to reconnect with your significant other and show them how much you truly care.
Recharge YOUR battery. Next time you’re racing around the airport looking for an electric outlet to plug in your phone, make a mental note that you need some recharging, as well. We all need to reconnect with family, nature, and ourselves once in a while to rejuvenate and regroup. Take time once a week to soak in a bubble bath, play with the kids, go on a romantic date (without electronics) – whatever it is that makes you feel ready to take on the world again.
Everything in moderation. Although it’s important to “disconnect to connect,” it is great to use technology and social media to connect to a moderate extent. My family and I love using platforms like Facebook and Instagram to keep up on real-time photos of the children and our day-to-day lives, and I love using it to keep up with all of the Consultants – something that is invaluable when I’m on the road traveling for Pure Romance. I have been delving into these platforms myself, and encourage those of later generations to do the same. Just remember, when you start to find yourself getting sucked into the virtual world, take an intentional step back and focus on the things you can see, touch, feel, smell and taste right in front of you.