Last week, at the MPI World Education Congress, I went to the “Rendevous” Foundation event featuring the band, Train. (I’m a huge fan… the ringtone for my husband is a lick from the hit song, Get to Me).
There was one song (can’t remember what it was) where the lead singer, Pat Monahan, took “selfies” using audience members’ phones during the entire song. He must have done 50 or so. I remember thinking, “This guy is really talented. Not only is he singing the song perfectly, but he’s able to reach out, grab a phone, position it so that his face and the owner’s face is visible, take the picture, hand it back to the correct person. Rinse and repeat. One after another and not miss a beat! Now that’s audience engagement!”
Ah, but it got even better….or worse, depending on how you look at it.
Monahan then brings up two audience members – a man and a woman in their early 30’s – to sing the two parts of the iconic Journey song, “Don’t Stop Believin’.”
They actually had pretty decent voices, which I think surprised Monahan. Yet, rather than enjoying the moment singing on stage with Train, both of them were absorbed with the joy of taking pictures and video with their phones.
It was weird to watch.
At the end of the song, even Monahan said something like, “Hope you took enough pictures.” [disclaimer – I don’t remember what he actually said, but it was something like that].
Now, I find great utility in my smartphone, but I realize it is like cocaine. Quite habit-forming with it’s alluring pings and notifications. Gosh, someone loves me! And when I have a free moment, it’s easy enough to check my email to see what messages await. Glory be! More people want my advice and opinion! Someone liked my Facebook post!
As I sat on our deck in the summer breeze last night, I was watching the waves crash on the beach – doing absolutely nothing. I picked up my phone to….you got it, check my email. Automatic reflex. Pavlov’s dog with a spare moment of time. Did I really need to check my phone?
No. In a world where we are plugged in 24/7, with information at our fingertips, and Ellen Degeneres setting the tone that selfies are the new normal, when do we unplug?
Can we even allow ourselves the time to think, to be present with others? To enjoy the moment, whether we are singing with Train, breaking bread with our brethren, or taking in the beauty of the world?
Are we so self-absorbed that we don’t even notice what is going on around us – in our family, our team, the workplace, our community or even the world?
I’m resolving to put my phone down more often. How about you? #beinthemoment.
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Kristin Arnold is a professional meeting facilitator and international speaker who is passionate about teamwork. The Extraordinary Team’s approach to building high performance teams combines consulting, coaching, training and process facilitation within the context of working real issues. You can read more of her work in one of her books Team Basics, Email Basics, Team Energizers, or Boring to Bravo.