The dangers of distracted living

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Tiffany Dawson
  • 62nd Airlift Wing Staff Judge Advocate
"Mom, you really seem to be enjoying this," my oldest daughter commented as we tossed a Frisbee around recently. How could she tell? Because, she said, "You're focused on me."

As she often reminds me, my bright, beautiful daughter is much wiser than her ten years. I am constantly guilty of trying to multi-task, at work and at home, only to find I can't quite complete any of the things I've set out to do.

Warnings abound on the dangers of distracted driving, but her comment was a great reminder about the perils of distracted living. Distractions are everywhere.

Like most Airmen, my job requires long hours at the office. But even after I leave, I'm focused on work issues. And, while technology is wonderful, it's a regular source of distraction. I carry two phones and constantly check them at the first "ping" of a message or text. Add school, sports and any number of commitments and it's easy to see all the things that invade our day-to-day lives and preclude us from focusing on the people around us.

Does the quality of our personal interactions really matter? I think so. A recent study by AARP suggests that while we are more "connected" than ever thanks to technology and social media, we have never been more disconnected from each other. The study's authors argue that while Facebook and the like are not the cause, social media makes our connections more superficial and takes away from face-to-face, meaningful conversation.

When we allow distractions to impede our interactions with people, we become detached. And, as my daughter's comment shows, the people that matter most notice. Kids notice when you've got your head down, checking your phone at their soccer games; other Airmen notice when your eyes keep darting to your computer screen as they talk to you about an issue important to them.

In the spirit of Mother's Day, I'm determined to do a better job of staying focused on the people in my life.

So, put down your phone, stop typing that e-mail and focus on the person in front of you.