Be Present



I was wearing a ‘regular’ watch the other day and my one-year-old tried exhaustively to swipe the watch face,until she finally declared conclusively that it was broken.

Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 11.53.53 AM
She is part of what is now called the Swipe Generation. A generation of children who are so digitally connected that they assume everything in their world can be swiped.
At one-years-old she can easily navigate her way around an iPhone to open movies or photos or even make a phone call,
but will she have the social skills to look someone in the eye and have a conversation?

In his viral video, Look Up Gary Turk says “We’re surrounded by children, who since they were born, watch us living like robots, and think it’s the norm.”

This resonated with me more than anything else, because even if we recognize that “we’ve become a generation of smart phones and dumb people” our children think that this is normal. That is a frightening thought.

The more connected we are, the more disconnected we have become.

Jacob Weisberg gives us a glimpse of the severity of the situation in an article entitled We are Hopelessly Hooked :

  • Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 11.53.31 AMAmericans spend an average of five and a half hours a day with digital media.
  • Others reported using their cell phones an average of ten hours a day.
  • Three quarters of eighteen-to-twenty-four-year-olds say that they reach for their phones immediately upon waking up in the morning.
  • We check our phones 221 times a day—an average of every 4.3 minutes.

The Starbucks near my home fills up every weekday at lunch time with teenagers from a large high school down the street. Dozens of kids pack into the store and literally every single one of them has their face in their phone. They are texting each other from across the table!

To me, this is the greatest sign that we are doomed as a society if we don’t change something fast. We need to reverse the trend of being alone together and encourage our children and ourselves to begin really living life.

teenstextingScreen Shot 2016-03-04 at 11.53.40 AMI am not suggesting that we do away with technology, but that we learn to use it as a tool to enhance our life, not escape from it. When we begin to define ourselves as a generation by the way we use technology it is no longer a
tool but an identity.

The greatest shame of what has happened is that we no longer experience life fully. If I am recording a clip of my children at the park or in a school play, I am looking at life through the lens of a phone instead of the lens the Almighty gave me. I am jumping to share the moment before I’ve even processed the experience.


We need the gift of Shabbat today more than we ever have!


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  1. excellent video Rabbi , please keep me on your list.

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