There was a time not too long ago when people would look at what we can do with the phones in our pockets and not think: ‘wow… you’ve got superpowers.’ It’s so ubiquitous now that we hardly think about it.
Want to know batting average of your favorite Boston Red Sox player? It’s a few taps away. Want to call someone in Africa? Easy. Want food or diapers delivered? Done.
Not to be forgotten, we’ve got real time information coming out of the TV, the radio, the newspapers, and more. This information deluge allows us to the see the larger world out there in real time. This is a superpower.
But does it make us better?
Superpowers and Focus
There is a wonderful scene in the Man of Steel when young Clark Kent’s amazing powers start to show themselves.
He’s seated in his 5th grade classroom. All of the sudden, the clock’s second hand is booming in his ears. He can see through the teacher. The scrape of a pencil sounds like bombs going off.
After being bombarded by too much input, the young Superman runs out and locks himself in a hallway closet. He’s desperate to get away from all of the other kids and adults.
The teacher, not able to get him out, calls his mom to come help. While listening to all the other kids whisper and being mean, he also hears his mom ask, “Clark, what’s wrong? Let me help.”
“The world is too big, Mom,” Clark responds.
“Then make it smaller. Just focus on my voice. Pretend it’s an island… [and] swim toward it.”
Make it Smaller
I love that idea.
As an adult, I have a hard time grasping all of the information coming my way and fighting the ‘rabbit holes’ strewn about my phone and laptop. I’ve worked intentionally to set up habits and systems to combat the pull of the information deluge. And, it works… most of the time.
Our kids? Their brains and emotions and bodies are not ready for this onslaught. Yes, they’ve grown up with the tech. Yes, they can push the buttons faster than we adults can think.
But their brains and the deep drives that have been cultivated over thousands and thousands of years have not changed in the last generation. ‘Fight or flight’ is still a real thing. And, social media exacerbates it to no end.
The answer, to me, is to make our world smaller. Rather than thinking about what someone is doing in Europe, spend some time thinking about the person next to you. Rather than reading the news about what happened 10,000 miles away from you, be truly present where your feet are.
I’m not suggesting to go Amish (though there is a lot to be said for that way of life.) What I’m suggesting is that we need to start focusing more on those around us rather than those who capture our attention online. We need to spend more time in our narrow circle rather than trying to take it all in from the whole world.
Smaller At Camp
That’s one of the beauties of camp, isn’t it? We get to focus on the here, the now, and the people around us. No distractions, no phones… just fun and friends and new experiences.
We aren’t thinking about what those other people said or think or believe. There is too much going on in the bunk, in the division, in the camp. When we fall asleep, we can hear our friends softly snoring, moving around in the bunk above or next to us. We know the counselor is there to help, no matter what.
There is safety in smaller. There is comfort, too. Camp is the respite for the busy, connected world. It’s the step backward required to leap forward.
That’s the paradox, isn’t it? In order to fulfill our potential in the larger world, we’ve got to begin with a small base in which we become our best selves. We must find a place, the place which allows us to flourish. And that, boys and girls, is camp.
We can’t wait to get smaller. See you soon.