Monday, October 17, 2016

Look Up! There is a Great Big, Beautiful World Out There!

A few months ago, on a trip Disney World, my daughter said “I can’t see the fireworks, all these people’s phones are blocking my view.” I bent down to her 7 year old height and was shocked to see how many people were not watching the spectacular Disney fireworks show in the sky. Instead they were “capturing the moment” and watching it on their tiny phone screens as they recorded the fireworks. I was even more shocked to see kids sitting in strollers and on the ground not even noticing the fireworks because they were so engrossed in a tiny phone screen, an iPad, or a tablet. I wanted to scream, “Look up! There are fireworks in the sky people! Amazing, possibly once in your lifetime, big and beautiful fireworks. Look up. It is RIGHT THERE.”

Then, I began to see it everywhere. People engrossed in tiny screens when they were in amazing places (and often ordinary places). At the beach, kids were playing games on a phone instead of playing in the sand. At restaurants I watched couples take multiple selfies, then work for 20 more minutes to make the perfect post on Instagram and Facebook. At the playground I watched as parents were so engaged with their phones, that they missed their own children saying, “Watch me!” Everywhere I went people were looking down at their screens. I even watched two teenagers walking side by side at the mall so focused on their phone screens walked right into a wall; as in an actual wall that was 12 feet high. 

I hate to say this this, but the much feared “zombie apocalypse” is here. At any given moment, at any given place, it is likely that many people are zoned out and have become “screen zombies”. These screen zombies are trudging through time and space, unaware of the world they are in, simply focused on a tiny pixilated screen. 

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to hop into a DeLorean time machine and go back to the 1950s, before computers and cell phones took over. I appreciate the time technology saves, the ways in which we can connect using technology, and how many options are open to us due to technology. I just don’t want these tiny screens to replace interactions and experiences in the real world, in real time. I don’t want to miss looking up and seeing the life that I am missing.

At this point you may be asking yourself why I wrote about this in a blog so clearly for teachers. It is because we are all teachers. Parents, uncles, aunts, sisters, brothers, friends, even strangers, and of course actual teachers make up the “village” it takes to raise our children. Life is the greatest teacher of all, and I am a little afraid for the lessons our children are being taught they look around. I am afraid of everything they are missing by looking down at a screen. Our worlds have been changed by technology in so many ways and these tiny screens are slowly starting to change us.

So here is what I am going to do to try and “look up” and experience life in real time. I made a list of 5 simple changes I am making (and anyone can) to be more present and look up!

  1. Experience the moment, instead of worrying about the perfect picture of the moment. Take a picture or two, then put away the phone and experience it.                                                              
  2. Have a dedicated time that the phone and all screens are off. Be present in the world. Every. Single. Day.                                                                                                                                           
  3. Limit screen time. I know, I am guilty of getting lost in the statuses on Facebook/Instagram, browsing Pinterest for DIY ideas (that I will wish I could do, but never will), or getting lost in the rabbit hole of the internet. Set an alarm. Set a time limit. Allow sometime to relax with a screen, but not all the time. Technology is a great tool, but there is a whole wide non-digital world out there.                                                                                                                                                     
  4. Make a conscious decision to experience life. Squish sand between your toes, watch leaves fall, jump in a clear, cool pool, explore a deep dark woods, sit and listen to the morning, connect with a friend in person, take a long walk, read a book that is made of paper, or do something, anything in the real world that makes you smile and think that life is good.                                              
  5.  Look up! Look up to see the life that is there, right in front of you. Life is right in front of you. Look up. It is RIGHT THERE. 


  1. Awesome post Alexis!!!! Excellent ways to look up!!! I frequently set my timer to go off so I don't get lost in the rabbit hole of the internet, it works for me!!!

  2. Thank you Alexis! This is such an important reminder for ALL of us. I love your posts!