Christmas is right around the corner. How will you be spending your festive season?
Well, if there’s one thing we can be sure of about time, it’s that time always drags change along with it. Some festive seasons just aren’t the same any more.
It wasn’t too long ago that the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, blamed technology for ruining Christmas: “Christmas Day is a time to be together with the family, to focus on the children and to have a great time together. This day is precious. We are now in danger of the gadgets taking over our lives and we are not in control of them.”
More recently, a British Bishop has also been digging his heels in against the pull of social media and its effects on our interpersonal relationships during the holidays. To prove his point (and accelerate the onset of carpal tunnel syndrome), the Right Reverend Paul Bayes – Britain has Left Reverends too, you know – has decided to sit down and write 600 Christmas cards by hand.
With the increasing statistics in smartphone addiction among Singaporeans, maybe Bayes has got the right idea. Earlier this year, a study found that a whopping 87% of Singapore’s 5.4 million population own a smartphone. Some even own two. Singaporeans also spend an average of 38 minutes per session on Facebook, almost twice that of most Americans.
Don’t believe me? Ride the MRT and you’ll see. People with their heads bowed – not in prayer or deep thought, but simply looking down at their smartphones. Maybe you won’t even see it – you’re looking at your own phone.
So, has technology ruined Christmas?
Not really. Technology is amoral – humans have ruined Christmas.
Sure, it’s easy to send a message to your entire Whatsapp contact list wishing them a Merry Christmas. But when was the last time you actually saw any of them in person?
Smartphones and technology have become the easy way out. Awkward situation at the family gathering? Bury yourself in your iPhone. Little cousin throwing a fit? Thrust an iPad at them, and the problem goes away.
So this Christmas, don’t let yourself ruin your festivities. Put your phone face down. This year, maybe buy your little nieces and nephews a LEGO set instead of a video game. Show them how to have a good time without a device. Maybe even put your phone on Friend Mode – face down at the dinner table – so you can actually talk to your friends.
Don’t be surprised if the day doesn’t turn out as perfect as it ought to. With technology moving faster than we can keep up, it looks like the smartphone is here to stay. It’s only going to get more difficult to remember what spending time with your family really means.
But remember, technology can’t think or feel or make the choice to spend some real quality time with families. Humans, however, can.