Our family recently visited Washington, D.C. I had the privilege of opening the House of Representatives in prayer on Thursday, March 14. We stayed in the city for four days, visiting memorials and museums, and eating some phenomenal meals. I love our small town in “the center of it all,” but we don’t have many ethnic restaurants. The Piphers are foodies, so we scheduled our days in such a way that we’d end up near Peruvian chicken, Mongolian beef, or Turkish lamb during the dinner hour.
One thing that struck me as tragic was how many people walked by important places without looking up from their phones. Lincoln, Jefferson, and Washington couldn’t compete with 3-inch glass touch screens. Moms and dads walked the mall searching the internet and checking emails. Teenagers wandered through the Museum of Natural History sending texts. One young person walked the entire length of the Vietnam Memorial never looking at the polished black granite monument. Winston Churchill said, “We shape our buildings and then they shape us.” It appears that we have created little devices with enormous technologies, and they now captivate and consume us.
I’m not above this allure. As we began our first day at the Capitol, I loaded a “tour D.C.” application on my iPhone. For a few moments, I contemplated letting this app direct our family’s schedule that day. Then I realized that this would mean staring at my phone all day long. My eyes can only take in one thing at a time, so this would have meant less time watching my kids’ expressions, my wife’s pleasure in teaching them history, and the variety of people from around the world who were also visiting D.C. that day. I just couldn’t do it. I made a decision that I don’t always make, but I certainly don’t regret: I kept my phone in my pocket and paid attention to the important things.
Q4U: Are you concerned about your cell phone habits? How have you drawn lines or set boundaries to help you “look up” and experience life?