While the term is just something I made up, TSS is absolutely real folks! It comes from things I have personally witnessed, when people are unable to put down their devices and connect with another human being, face to face.
Yesterday, in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, we were getting snowed on, again. As I was leaving work, I spotted a young woman walking with bags of groceries and she looked like she was shivering. So I pulled alongside her in my car, rolled down my window and said, “Hey, you look really cold, would you like a lift?” She agreed and got in my car.
She told me where she wanted to be dropped off, only six blocks away. I began a conversation about the snow, and how unpredictable the weather can be here. I proceeded to recount a time when it snowed during the 4th of July fireworks show. Having received no reply whatsoever, I glanced over at this young woman sitting only a foot away from me, and her head was buried in her device. I felt very sad at that moment. How is it that in a period of about two minutes, as long as the drive took, that she was unable to stop and connect with me?
She was unable and/or unwilling to engage in a conversation with another human being. Is that why people are so lonely? Have they forgotten how to react with others? They cannot separate from their technology and it separates them from their fellow beings.
I don’t know how many times I’ve seen people walking out of a store, heads buried in their phones, not even bothering to look up at oncoming traffic, fully trusting the drivers not to hit them. Blows my mind! Is whatever they are doing on their phone more important that their safety?
Another incident occurred a while back at the coffee shop. I love watching people, no, not in a creepy way, but observing what is going on around me. It is fascinating. On this particular day, I saw a very cute couple sitting at one of the tables. Every so often, they’d chuckle, and look up at each other. I then made the connection that they were sitting across from each other and texting, each other! Being the good person I am (you can insert busy body if you’d like) I went up to them, touched their hands and said, “You should be gazing deeply into each others eyes and having a conversation.” They were startled at first, someone broke into their cocoon of technology, and then processed what I said and started giggling about the truth of my words. At least I was able to get through to them.
Then there is the other extreme, the person on their phone at the grocery store, talking in a loud voice telling the person on the other end how her visit to the gynecologist went. I cannot make this stuff up, it really happened. I just stood there dumbfounded, until she glanced up, and was upset that I was listening in, like it could be helped at the volume she was speaking. Another sad case of TSS. Her use of technology separated me from my appetite for dinner, after hearing the blow by blow of the exam. I guess folks believe there is some sort of wall of silence around them when they are on their phones.
As we are commissioned to be the salt and light of Jesus to a broken world, I take advantage of every opportunity I get to make an effort to be just that to my fellow human beings. I want to make a difference and be the encouragement that might just want that person needed in that moment.
“Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead let us encourage one another all the more…” (Heb. 10:25 [GNB])
“Remember to welcome strangers into your homes. There were some who did that and welcomed angels without knowing it.” (Heb. 13:2 [GNB])
Although I’m pretty sure if I had given a ride to an angel without knowing it, he would have put down his device and talked to me.
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