Where’s Your Digital Shield?

I was at dinner with a friend recently. He had flown into the area for work and we were catching up. We dined al fresco at a little Italian restaurant in Old Town.

Over an impossible amount of appetizers, Tortellini alla Panna, and a bottle of Chianti, we reconnected. For hours, we discussed everything from family to politics, from our current spiritual pursuits to the highs and lows of our pasts.

After an anecdote about his new home, he said he’d show me a picture, but it was on his phone.

And his phone was in the car.

I thought about what a rare–and brave–act it is in today’s world to not have that digital shield in tow. Brave is a strong word here, but—look around you—how many times is a conversation stalled by a buzz, or is a fledgling topic not pursued because one (or perhaps both) of the participants use the beautiful raw moment of potential to glance down at an update from someone they hardly care about?

Sitting across from another human soul, you have every opportunity for deep connection.

Go anywhere, take it in any direction.

Drop to that next level of conversation where the intonations, the subtleties are even more important than the words themselves.

Connect with another human being—really connect.

It’s vulnerable; it can be scary. Thus the shield.

This is not about vilifying the iPhone. There’s a time and place for such a tool; it’s just not everywhere and all the time.

My friend commented later that we had had a riveting three hour conversation without lulls, pauses or awkward silences. How did that happen?

His phone was in the car.
(Mine was tucked away in my purse.)

That’s how.