What is Happening to us?

A social dilemma

shutterstock_306965114We were at “Shogun,” a mixture of Japanese cuisine, acrobatic food preparation and pure family fun.  We had come to celebrate an award that my young grandson, Bailey, had won.

We shared the preparation grill with another family, a mom, dad and two boys who appeared to be somewhere between the ages of 7 and 12.

What I observed as we  spent 70 minutes in this in this amazing place caused me to wonder, “What in the world is happening to us?”

The two boys across the grill from us were “buried.” Yes, that’s the right word.  They were buried in their internet devices.  Dead to the world.  They didn’t know we were there.  They didn’t know that two boys about their age were sitting across from them.  They were buried!  They spoke not a word to their parents or to each other as we waited for the dramatic preparation of our food to begin.

Then with much fanfare and rhythmic clanking of utensils the chef arrived. The boys never looked up.

The show always starts with the chef pouring what I used to think was gasoline, but found out is a mixture of oil and alcohol, on the grill.  With a swooping gesture our chef lit the mixture.

FIRE!  A huge exploding fireball.  The heat and light caused everyone jump back… except for two boys buried in their devices.  My family will testify to this truth.  They never even glanced up.  A young child at the other end of the room cried out in fear.  But evidently buried people show no emotion.

As the grill smoked and each of us patted our singed eyebrows, the chef took orders.  The parents ordered for one of the boys the other mumbled his order without ever taking his eyes from the screen on his device.

In the next moment eggs were thrown into the air and deftly caught on the flat surface of a spatula.  One of the eggs thrown into the air disappeared as the chef caught it in the hat he was wearing.  Laughter and gasps of amazement… except from two, sadly, buried boys.  Salt and pepper shakers were expertly juggled, eggs where cracked in mid air and mixed with the vegetables and rice that sizzled on the grill.  The aromas made my mouth water.

The boys did not see one second of the display.  IMG_0302

As the chef expertly gave each person at our grill a portion of food neither of the boys acknowledged the chef or what was being put on their plates.

By this time I was giving my own grandchildren a whispered lecture of the sadness of being buried and the importance of being present in social situations, aware of what was going on around them.

Surely, I thought, this will end when the boys begin to eat.  I was wrong!  Now the devices lay beside their plates as they manipulated them between bites of food.  The youngest boy ate only a few bites before once again disappearing into his little cyber world.

The only interaction I saw between these boys and their parents in the entire 70 minutes was when the mom accidentally interfered with whatever game the older boy was playing on his phone.  In that moment the boy rudely elbowed his mother and muttered an angry reprimand.

As we walked from the restaurant the parents guided the boys, who were still buried in their devices, to the car.

On the way home Diane and I talked about the experience.  I was pondering several questions?

  • Why did the parents let this happen?
  • What will become of boys who can’t see real people, potential adventure and approaching cars in the parking lot.
  • What is happening to us?

I know this issue is not limited to preteen boys.  I have seen groups of young adults in a restaurant ignore each other for an entire evening as they choose to surf a digital world at the expense of missing a real world.

That night we were still talking as Diane fixed our staple Sunday night meal… leftovers. We pulled up a couple of TV trays, switched on the television and began to eat in silence.

Can you spell hypocrite?  In that moment, I asked the question one more time and now I will ask it of you.

What is happening to us?

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11 thoughts on “What is Happening to us?

  1. We often eat our evening meal in front of the tv, but interact about whatever we are watching. It is a big problem, though, as is the total lack of common courtesy in our culture

  2. It makes me so sad 🙁 breaks my heart when I see people (especially kids) buried in their devices. They have no idea what they are missing. God made such a beautiful world for us to see and experience.
    Not just kids, though. At dinner one night I watched a couple in their 70s sit at their table, each had a movie on their own tablets, watching movies while eating dinner, never even talking to each other 🙁
    My husband and I turn off the tv during dinner (if it was even on to begin with,) When we go out to eat, phones are put away, and we look at each other and actually communicate.

  3. Don’t worry… apparently this is normal now. We are now in the “social” media age, and here I thought that social meant interacting or speaking to each other face to face.

    Oi vey… I got a headache. What was I thinking… Got to go lie down.

  4. I don’t see a problem with watching TV with someone while eating. There’s a difference. With smartphones and other similar devices, each person is in his or her own little world regardless of how many people are around. When watching TV while eating, everyone is engaged together in the same thing. You can laugh together, point out stuff to others, and talk about it later. To me, it’s totally different.

    I agree, this device thing is becoming a big problem. Before long–if not already there–kids will grow up not having a clue as to how to effectively communicate face-to-face with another human being. (And let’s not even get into the neck and upper back problems popping up from constantly looking down at these devices.) And adults are often no better. We need to stop making these devices “our own little world” and start fully participating in the real world.

  5. Thanks Ken. Sooo worth reading and sharing. So very sad. How do we speak of a relationship with the Holy God, when people don’t know what a relationship is????
    Blessings on the journey. Ardi Hill

  6. Thanks for this, Ken. It is Horrifying. There are those who do research in this area that say that this is actually changing the DNA of people so embedded in this type of life. The scriptures tell us that in the last days the hearts of many will wax (become) cold. I see this happening more and more as people of all ages become addicted to
    electronic relationships rather than cultivating those with flesh and blood and spirit.

    I am personally attempting to have one day a week, a sabbath if you will, where no
    electronics are used….it is Very difficult….which is why I have chosen to do it. The goal is to be guided by the Holy Spirit, not a phone, the television, the latest movie,
    my computer, etc.

  7. I’ll cut you slack on watching TV while you eat as long as you’re truly watching together. (I can’t imagine a TV show in YOUR house without running commentary) We’ve taken to putting phones in the middle of the table in a stack. First person to touch theirs pays.

  8. Ken, This is undeniably a very disturbing trend in our world today. But I do believe parents are at fault here. Obviously there is a serious lack of respect, communication and good manners in what you observed. Not to be tolerated. The better question is “Why have parents stopped being parents?” I can assure you, this kind of behavior would never have been tolerated in our family. Our children wouldn’t have even tried. They were taught better manners. I know yours were too. The sad truth is that what you observed is being modeled after parents who are doing the same behavior. Good post, Ken!

  9. I see people at work go to lunch together and then are “buried “in their electronic devices. Why even go to lunch with someone. I don’t understand. I go to lunch with a bunch of guys who like to talk. Strange world.