Think about the last time you went to a concert, or a live event of any kind. Did you get a picture or a video of the event? Was it more like several pictures or videos of it? In all likelihood, the people around you were also trying to get the same picture as you. We all want to be able to post our most exciting news to Facebook, Instagram, twitter and other social media channels so that we can tell the world, “I was there!” Do we miss anything when we do that? When we travel to an event only to watch it through a screen, do we miss out on the experience of being there in person? I would argue that we do, to a degree. There is something to be said about being somewhere and saving those memories to the oldest hard drive in existence, our brains. I am no scientist myself, but I would argue that we are able to be a bit more present without the hindrance of the technology that runs our daily lives.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge proponent of these technologies. I use my iPhone and iPad just like anyone else. I rely on my email calendar to remind me of everything I have to do. I check Facebook with regularity, just like all of you.
During this time of the year, we get a chance to reflect on everything we are grateful for. We get to spend time with family, enjoy our religious and cultural traditions and have a memorable experience with those we love. There is really only one other time of the year, that I can think of, when we can be this present – summer!
During a session at a summer camp or a teen summer program, you are pushed to be present. By traveling to a campus, moving in with your peers and registering for classes or activities, you put yourself in a very unique position. You put yourself in a position to create new connections, learn about other cultures, understand people with different backgrounds and make friends that will last a lifetime. These are not things that can be accomplished by technology; rather they can only be accomplished by you, your social skills, and your willingness to step outside of your comfort zone. Using those skills will ensure an experience that you will never forget and, more importantly, one that will carry you through a lifetime of networking and relationship building all over the world.
During this holiday season, amidst the advertisements for the new (and very exciting) technology, blockbuster movies opening on the big screen and tv specials on every network, remember to turn the screen off for just a little bit. Remember to reconnect with the people who you meet in school and teen summer programs like ours. Most importantly, remember to stop and appreciate all of the relationships you have made in the last year – that is what life is all about.