Real vs Virtual
It was a typical Friday date morning for Amy and I. We went over to Sunny Street Restaurant in the Arnold Commons and walked in to be seated. I just happened to glance over and see an older gentlemen who was the manager of the restaurant talking kindly with a young family at their table. The manager was having a great conversation with the parents and tried to chit chat a little with the teenager staring down at their phone. As the manager spoke to the teen, it was clear that this was a one way conversation. The young person never looked up at the adult who was addressing him. The manager continued to try to speak to the teen, but was ignored as the kid stayed locked into the virtual world.
The manager was very frustrated. As he walked over to seat us I couldn’t help myself, I had to ask. “I noticed that you were trying to speak to that young man with the phone.” He looked at me and said, “you wouldn’t believe how common it is that a young person won’t look up from their phone to address me.” He went on to tell me that this impolite reaction to someone trying to engage in conversation was rarely if ever corrected by the parents that usually sit by and idly watch. Look around you in public settings and see if you ever witness the same thing that I did. I bet that it is happening a lot more than we realize.
Have you been in this situation before with one of your children? How did you respond? Maybe someone was addressing your child, but the device was pushing out the real world around them. Christian parents have a responsibility to nurture their children toward respect and courteousness to those around us, especially those who are older. Leviticus 19:32 says, “You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.” Notice in this verse that standing up to honor the aged as they walk in the room is mentioned. Honoring those older is also connected to the fear of God! The Hebrew word for “honor” is “kavod.” It means that something is “heavy or weighty.” When we honor someone it means we are giving weight to them as a person or their achievements. It means that we aren’t treating them as common or no big deal, but with serious respect. God tells us to “honor the face of the old man.” This means that when you see an older person coming, then get ready to show some respect.
My kids have been in similar situations as the teen at the restaurant. It is common to come home in the evening and see my kids heads buried in a chrome book working on homework when I come through the doors. They aren’t trying to be rude by ignoring me walking in the room and not paying attention, they are just engaged in their work. Many times I have to lure them out of the virtual world momentarily to get them to engage with me in the real world. Devices are distracting and parents need to remind their kids to stop looking at the device when an adult speaks with them. The teen in the restaurant should have been trained well enough to know that when an adult is speaking with them, he should put down his phone and speak when addressed. When this didn’t happen, the parents had a responsibility to reprimand the child and teach him better manners, but neither of those two things happened. Instead, the child was rude, the parents were unaware and the manager was offended.
The truth of the matter is, that far to many Christians allow their children to have the same behavior. Ephesians 6:4 says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Honoring the people speaking with you by putting away the device and engaging in conversation is a simple courtesy that no one is above. If you find yourself in a similar instance as the family I mentioned above and your children have escaped to the virtual world, don’t let them ignore the person speaking to them. TELL THEM TO PUT THE PHONE DOWN.