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“Autumn is the time of year when Mother Nature says, ‘Look how easy, how healthy, and how beautiful letting go can be.’”
– Toni Sorenson  
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  Volume No. 15 Issue No. 9 September 2018  

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  Look up!
  By Mark Stoller

   Mark Stoller is a nine-year resident of Colorado. He and his wife, Andra, both U.S. Air Force veterans, moved to Falcon in 2007 and are now raising their three teenage daughters in Latigo. They enjoy their home on the prairie with plenty of room for their six adopted dogs, bagpipes & Celtic Festivals and beekeeping. Mark enjoys the privilege of his wife and daughters being his muse for topics, people to meet and places to investigate.
“Well, you guys look like a real 21st century family.” I was sitting with Ava and Gracie while we waited for Andra and Alex to finish a meeting they were attending. There we were — all three of us with our noses in our phones and no one saying a word. Ugh! Busted.
   
   I have railed against this very situation so many times. I have loudly lamented how the inane societal norm of smartphone addiction has wrecked communication and child development. Yet, I was shamefully a participant.
   
   We have news, music, photos and mail all on one little device that fits ever so conveniently in our back pocket. Perhaps we have become lazy in our ability to start and continue conversations, and rely too heavily on the always-present stream of stories, photos and video to entertain. It is my opinion that smartphones destroy, rather than complement, our social interactions.
   
   How many times have we seen couples and families at a restaurant staring at their phones instead of engaging each other in conversation? What could possibly be more important on the stupid phone than the person in front of you?
   
   Worry not, my friend, there is a new term to describe this phenomenon! It’s called Phubbing. It is the act of snubbing someone in a social setting by concentrating on one’s phone instead of talking to the person directly. I found this term in a study from the ScienceDirect website.
   
   I learned, during my research, that Phubbing is caused by smartphone addiction, the fear of missing out and a complete lack of self-control.  
   
   Fear of Missing Out (FoMO) is a real thing and yet another psychological category. It is described as “the fears, worries and anxieties people may have in relation to being in (or out of) touch with the events, experiences and conversations happening across their extended social circles.” It really messes with people’s insecurities and causes a great deal of anxiety which, in turn, leads to smartphone addiction.
   
   “Excessive smartphone use and compulsive smartphone checking is also associated with interpersonal relationship problems such as the inability for interpersonal closeness and trust development.” No big surprise there!  
   
   To phub or not to phub? That is the question. In reality, it is a personal choice. Why this has become such an accepted norm really depends on the amount to which we are exposed to phubbing, choose to phub or were subjected to being the phubbee. Again, my research revealed that reciprocity plays a large part in human interaction and psychology when it comes to defining what is normal and not.
   
   My friend, Erik Swanson, shared a very profound observation with me, “God gave us a life to enjoy”.
   
   How are you enjoying your life? Hopefully, it’s not by staring at the little blue lit screen and living vicariously through (anti) social media. Perhaps someone you know is stuck in their phone and could use my unsolicited advice below.
   
   Look up from the phone!  
   
   Some ideas to help transition back to a real social life include 1) get outside, play hard, scrape a knee and feel alive; 2) have a smartphone Sabbath where you turn your phone off on Sundays; 3) have an accountability partner who reminds you to put the phone down in social settings; 4) research a list of conversation starters for dinner with family and friends; 5) get together with friends to play some board games, and most importantly, 6) communicate verbally with loved ones.  
   
   At the end of the day, don’t be a Phubber. And remember, friends don’t let friends surf and phub!
  
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