Sunday, December 1, 2013

Instant accessibility...Good or bad?

It would seem the ability to get in touch with each other any time, day or night, would be a good thing, right?  Instant accessibility…what could be better? How about the ability to have a conversation with someone for five minutes without constant interruption from a text alert or phone call? It seems that more and more people are quite content sitting next to each other while texting someone else….anything but face-to-face communication it would seem. As a result, it’s becoming increasing more difficult to have meaningful conversations as so many people are anxiously awaiting the next message, tweet or phone call (which, by the way, can almost always wait). Has a friend ever approached your for advice only to interrupt saying “hold on, I have a text” (or perhaps randomly check their phone while speaking with you)? Imagine that! …a  person asks YOU for help and then interrupts only to check a text (granted, sometimes we are waiting for a crucial call / message, but how often does that happen?).

As many are aware, this sort of behavior also carries into the music world. It’s becoming commonplace to attend concerts (and movies) only to see cell phones lighting up during performances (I’ve seen it many times at New York Philharmonic concerts – it’s quite disruptive).  To some, this may be an acceptable minor annoyance that comes with the advancement of technology; however, it’s possible that we may be sacrificing something along the way.  We may be missing out on the therapeutic and elevating experience that comes with all forms of art when we allow ourselves to become fully immersed in the subject at hand…..without interruption! Listening to an entire musical performance without checking for messages is almost unheard of these days. Music has the ability to elevate the soul and enrich one’s life…..but only if you let it! The concert experience is much like entering a temple with the sole intention of prayer – it’s a very sacred act that should not be disturbed. In the concert hall, the only requirement is that you listen. 

As an experiment, the next time you attend a concert, look to see how many people are listening vs. those who are texting or calling to convey what they are doing at that very moment. Regardless of your findings, I’d like to leave you with one parting thought:  Be in the moment! If you are enjoying something, allow yourself to continue enjoying it without interruption. You'll always have the opportunity to tell someone about it afterwards and actually have a more complete story to tell (or text, tweet, blog, etc.). And if you're speaking to a friend to give advice or listen to a story, give your full attention. That act, in and of itself, may be just the medicine they need!