I have a love/hate relationship with cell phones. I love the fact my daughter and I can easily text one another a few times a week while she’s at college. And I hate the fact my daughter’s paralysis came compliments of the supposed importance of a cell phone. You see, the woman who made that fateful illegal U turn on a West Virginia highway did so because her nineteen year old son left his cell phone at the last rest stop, which ignited a life-altering chain of events.
I think if an enemy truly wanted to take our society down, it wouldn’t take much. Just take away our cell phones. And I include myself when I say that. How many times a day do I depend on my cell phone for communication, information, and help? A lot. The times I’ve spent at physical therapy with my daughter in Atlanta and Chicago have been made a million times better by the ability to connect with my family and friends back home in Indiana via my cell phone. I dare say it has been a lifeline.
But cell phone usage in rural Indiana isn’t nearly like cell phone usage in Chicago. To say people are attached to their phones doesn’t do it justice. We walk/roll everywhere in the Windy City, and the streets are literally full of people with earbuds looking down at their devices. No matter the circumstance. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said to someone, “Look up! Look up!” either to keep them from running into something or to keep them from running into my daughter or me!
The other day I was using a public restroom where an able-bodied woman was using the handicapped stall (side note: there were able-bodied stalls completely available) and talking to a man on speakerphone. Yes, I was forced to do my business as she did her business while chatting away with a guy on her cell phone. When she didn’t wash her hands as she exited the restroom I finally said something to her, but as you might imagine, it was not well-received.
It’s a world gone mad. A world where people barely see and acknowledge others even exist. A world where people can barely carry on a conversation with one another. I’ve actually attended large gatherings at tables where teenagers are allowed to be on their phones. “Look up! Look up! No, this may not be the most exciting moment of your life, but put the phone down and eat the cake while listening to a mildly entertaining story you’ve already heard four times!”
I’ve told my teenagers multiple times, “You won’t have to be the smartest person to get a job post college. Good grief, just being able to look a person in the eyes and engage in direct intellectual conversation will soon be in short supply which means you will be a commodity.”
Sometimes when we are at a unique or special place or attraction, I realize most everyone around is viewing the event through a phone screen. I guess they’re recording it so they can watch it again and again. “Look up! Look up! Enjoy the moment. See it with your own eyes in larger-than-life action.”
This past summer my son and I were on an amazingly crowded public transportation train. Bodies were literally standing smashed together and there sat a twenty-something male, headphones in, eyes glued to his screen, with his minimal belongings in a seat – a seat where several older riders or a pregnant woman could have been sitting. “Look up! Look up! The world needs help. It’s not always in giant ways. Sometimes it’s just in taking the time to notice those little situations where just a small gesture will make the world a bit better for someone.”
The world seems very dark right now. Maybe it does to you too, Dear Reader. I often have to remove myself from the news cycle simply to maintain some semblance of composure. It’s easy to feel despair and discouragement in my personal life with the wreck and my daughter’s paralysis, as well as despair and discouragement with the anger and venom currently on continual display by humans. It is then I must remind myself, “Look up! Look up! It doesn’t all end like it feels today! When Jesus returns, He takes care of it all. Keep looking up!”
Until next Wednesday, Lord willing.