Thanks to today’s smartphones, the world is at our fingertips. From simple phone calls or texts to the vast web of social media connections, our contact lists have outgrown the old-fashioned Rolodex. Yet something as simple as a lost or broken phone highlights how quickly the broken connections affect our lives in this fast-paced world.
Case in point? A family vacation disrupted by two phones. First, my brother runs his own fire alarm and security installation company. Even though he lets his biggest clients know his vacation schedule, as a entrepreneur, he makes it a point to be available by phone to provide excellent customer service by troubleshooting problems long distance. Until he lost his phone in an amusement park.
Let’s just say it was NOT amusing to search for the phone, offer a reward, check in with the lost-and-found multiple times…and then later deal with his telephone service provider to block charges and get a replacement. In the meantime, none of his clients could contact him…and he could not contact his employees to fill in the gap because their phone numbers were stored on the lost phone. Who remembers phone numbers anymore when you just have to click on a person’s name to be instantly connected?
The second incident happened that same night when my oldest son had his phone in the pocket of his swimming trunks, then in the awkwardness of trying to get into the pool on crutches, forgot to take it out. Yep. One soaked phone that was a total loss. For a boy who connects with his generation on Instagram and SnapChat, being without his apps was like being stranded on a desert island. His disconnect didn’t end there. When he later transferred the tiny SIM card into a new phone, only his most recent contacts had been saved, leaving him without a way to contact his best friends since high school…until he was finally able to reconstruct a few contacts through ancient text messages.
When I think about all of the information stored on my phone, it makes me extra careful to back up the data somewhere in a cloud and invest in a sturdy case. It also makes me want to go a little old school and write down the most important numbers on actual paper. But beyond the hassle factor of a broken phone, broken connections happen in real life for many other reasons.
Sometimes we simply grow apart from old friends as our lives travel down different paths. Other times, a misunderstanding or betrayal severs a friendship or working relationship. Employees come and go. Students drift in and out of classrooms…and on and off sports teams. Neighbors move away. Personal priorities change along with the seasons of life. And a busy schedule keeps postponing that “let’s have coffee” appointment until you forget what you even wanted to talk about. The result? Broken connections with the people around us.
And suddenly, we are alone and cut-off in the middle of a fast-paced world as completely as if we’d lost our phones.
Where is the hope? It comes with being intentional in our interactions. To look someone in the eye and give them our full attention. To elevate people above a profile picture on an app or a name on our contact list. To not only remember their name (and maybe their phone number!), but to also know the names of their family members and even the last project they finished or dream they pursued.
The idea is to build stronger connections with people. Connections that can survive a broken or lost phone…or years apart by picking up right where you left off.
What about you? How many contacts are stored in your phone? Yet how many people have you truly (and personally) connected with in the past month? Can you make a plan to restore one connection this week?