I sat in a large room enjoying breakfast buffet. My attention was drawn to a four-year old boy sitting with his dad nearby. He was with his family on holiday. The setting, a hotel and spa, remote mountain location, and carefree attitude of everyone in the room gave testimony to this. Yet the scene was not quite right.
As I reflected on the specifics I was looking at I found myself wanting to step in, intervene, although I knew I had no right and in the end would not act.
With a mobile in his hand, the boy was consumed. Every fiber of his being was focused on the information he was seeing and scrolling through. From his actions it did not look like it was a game. Instead, it was the same motions you or I would use to go through and read out emails. Scroll down, pause on one that catches your attention, click to open, and read with intensity. As he repeated this series of actions, his cherub face told a story of intensity, curiosity, and worry.
The intensity was amazing. I expected someone this young to have a short attention span. Instead, as I watched out of the corner of my eye, the processes repeated again and again for over fifteen minutes. Tasty food offered my mom was rejected with the same intensity that the mobile was demanding. Distractions were ignored as if the room was silent. Nothing was interfering with the boy in his virtual world.
The worry was troubling. Deep lines formed in his brow that suggested it was forty not four. His eyes rolled and expressed concerns that should only be found in adults. It appeared as if each email brought on a disaster worse than the one before.
As I imagined his thoughts, I could hear a plea for help. “Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.”” (Psalm 46.10) Hear my cry. Be with me in my distress.
The room carried on. Nobody noticed; nobody cared.