“Squirrel!” ~ Doug the Dog from “Up”

Our electronic distractions are all around us.

A young mother is in a restaurant with her three children. Her back is to them as she talks on her cell phone.

An extended group of family and friends is on the shuttle to airport parking. Each adult has their eyes glued to their cell phone screen.

I’m sitting next to my four-year-old daughter’s bed as I rub her back, soothing her to sleep. In my other hand is my cell, showing me articles and updates on Facebook.

Please, understand. I am not a neo-Luddite curmudgeon lamenting the coming of the Internet as a harbinger of the end of days. I mean, I’ve been a computer programmer for over twenty years. You can’t do that without some appreciation for technology and its many benefits.

That said, I’m beginning to be a little concerned for how technology has distracted us from what’s important. I see it all the time. Parents on their phones instead of interacting with their children — those same parent who will someday lament about how fast their baby grew up. Participants at my networking programs who pull out their cell phones at the first break — those same people who complain their networking isn’t paying off. Drivers texting while waiting in traffic — those same drivers who might not make it home that night.

I’m certainly no innocent in this, but recently I’ve noticed how much I tend to check out electronically. I wonder, have I missed an opportunity to connect someone to success? Could that someone have been me?

When it comes to networking, we can’t afford to let our attention be diverted by the electronic squirrels. The living, breathing, caring people who are there, right now, in person are the ones who deserve our focus. The call, email, or text, except in the rarest of circumstances, can afford to wait.

What do you think? Does our technology make us more or less connected? How can we make sure it works to our advantage?

Photo by Garry Knight