It’s spring, the weather is warming, the trees are budding a fresh happy green, and I want to start a campaign. It doesn’t have to be on every bus bench, or t-shirt, or go viral on the internet. It’s made up of two simple words, ‘Look Up’. Look Up. Look Up. Look Up. Though, my campaign has a subtitle – ‘Love the One You’re With‘. So right now, stop staring at your screen for a minute and smile at someone nearby. Smile at your partner. Smile at the person at the next table. The one right beside you at the transit station.
Didn’t you go out to a coffee shop to escape the loneliness of working at home? So let your eyes, and your humanity, drift away from focusing on your iPad. Take a break from texting on your cell phone. Look Up from the work, or play, that is keeping your attention on your laptop. Engage a stranger, if only with just a smile.
I am guilty, too. I have to wait to meet a friend at a restaurant, and I immediately reach for my phone. I hear that twinkly sound of ‘you’ve got a text’ and I’m immediately eager to see who is reaching out to me. “No, just Look Up”, I tell myself. The greeting will wait for me, if I just resist the urge to look down – away from the world unfolding around me, the toddler impressing his parents at the next booth, the waitress who might linger at my table, or I could gaze out the big window – see the golden setting sun, the small birds on the horizon, the row of purple tulips.
Perhaps I’m alone having a pick-me-up in a favourite coffee shop – what do I do? Voila, I reach for the comfort of my phone, to check my text messages, my email messages and maybe even Google the weather. Instead, I could resist the temptation to touch my cool perfectly weighted phone (thanks Steve) and smile at a stranger, or pause to connect with a silly comment about the weather, the way people used to – in the old days – sharing a thought with someone new. Worse is when we can’t resist the sneak a peak at the iphone when we’re not alone, but are with friends or family that we’ve sought out, or who have sought us out, to spend a few low-tech minutes of actual straight up human connection. That’s where the subtitle comes in – the ‘Love the one (s) your with’.
On a recent wet and windy day I stepped into that warm coffee shop to view the customers in the line-up, and those hunkered down at the tables with their half-sweet-non-fat-extra-hot-vanilla-what ever’s all looking down, hiding with their many sized screens. “Look Up,” was what I wanted to bravely call out. “Look Up and Smile.”