I was at a a men’s conference last week that booked Switchfoot for the afternoon concert. I’m not mad about it. The light show was amazing. Their stage presence was super fun. And of course any time the songs “Hello Hurricane” or “If the house burns down tonight” are played, you can’t really have a bad time. Best of all, they are real. Not just a group of musicians who are in it for the money, but real people who are passionate about the words they are singing. I once heard Jon Foreman say, “If you’re not crying by the end of the song, why are you singing it?”
And I realized something. When life gives us a grand experience, there is nothing we want more than to share it. There was a time when that meant we were eager to tell everyone about it when we came home. But now our technological world makes that easier than ever. We don’t have to tell others about it later. We can broadcast it, right here, right now, in the moment.
So here I am at an awesome concert, having a great time, and my natural inclination is to reach into my back pocket and grab my phone. Everyone needs to experience this! But for some reason I didn’t. Something in the back of my mind was telling me to just enjoy the show. I was compelled to simply watch. To take in the moment. Apparently, the guys in the section in front of me didn’t hear the same message. If you know any of these men, don’t tell them I snapped this photo. If you are one of these men, oops. 😉
I totally get it. I usually do the same thing, and almost did this time. But instead, I merely participated. I sang louder than I have in a long time. I didn’t bother about what the guys next to me thought about my enthusiasm. Throwing my fist in the air (probably looked like an idiot), and rocking back and forth. It was awesome. This moment was absolutely worth sharing, but in a different way than I usually do. I wanted to tell people about it, face to face, after it was all over. I wanted them to imagine it instead of seeing it on a screen. I wanted others to wish they were there. Not to make them jealous, but to make them crave the same experience. To make them want to go out and live.
The truth is, no one will enjoy this moment by watching this concert from four inch screen nearly as much as I will. I am excited about this because I am living it. Others aren’t living it, they are watching me live it.
As I was watching these men with their phones, filming the concert, it hit me. There are three different kinds of people here. There is the “Broadcasted,” the “Broadcaster,” and the “Broadcastee.” Switchfoot is the “broadcasted.” They are living life in a way that attracts others to watch. The guy with the smart phone is the “Broadcaster.” He is missing out on a moment that I promise you, he doesn’t get to experience every day. And the person who sees the live feed on Facebook is the “Broadcastee.” He or she is scrolling through tons of posts, articles, pictures, and videos, and stops to watch yours for less than 30 seconds, and then moves on. You want so badly to share your experiences with the world so that none of your friends miss out, yet the only person who is missing out is you.
The old saying, “I watched my life flash before my eyes,” is a great way to describe our smart phone society. We sometimes miss the best moments of our lives by broadcasting them. And I get it. As soon as my two-year-old starts banging on the drums, my first inclination is to film it (it’s actually kind of weird how good he is). Of course there’s nothing wrong with broadcasting from time to time. I’m not suggesting to boycott Instagram (I’m certainly not going to). But when it keeps us from being participants in the moment, and instead we become merely observers, it’s time to put the phone away. Remember that God “richly provides us with everything to enjoy” (1 Tim. 6:17). Let’s stop missing the best moments of our lives by broadcasting them, and instead let’s simply enjoy them.
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