In 2017, the film The Greatest Showman, inspired by the imagination of P. T. Barnum, swept audiences off their feet. Despite its historical setting, the story line is unexpectedly fresh and relevant. (If you haven’t seen it, here is your spoiler alert! Stop reading and get yourself to Netflix, post haste.)
It’s the story of a young dad chasing big dreams who gets…wait for it…distracted…by a glittery, sparkly, unattainable opera singer named Jenny Lind. He gives his full attention to a person he has barely even met, ignoring the people who love him deeply. And yet, at the end of the day, he realizes that this was not time well spent…and returns home to rediscover the greatest show: being present with his family and friends.
It striking how similar Miss Lind is to our smartphones. Sparkly, demanding, distracting…we can easily get swept away by their charms, yet the pace we often run to keep up with notifications will “never be enough” and can leave us feeling empty. All the while, the greatest show—the one standing right in front of us—is “Everything we ever want, everything we ever need.”
At START, our passion is to help families spend their time and attention on the things that matter most. But we regularly hear parents share how challenging it can be to focus on the greatest show—especially when studies tell us that the average person checks their phone 80 times per day.
With spring break just around the corner, we invite you to give yourself permission to unplug from time to time, so you can connect with the people you love the most. In the next few weeks, we’ll explore together the benefits of time connecting offline, including:
romantic relationships that last
middle school lunchrooms that buzz
vacations that recharge and refresh
fun ideas for the National Day of Unplugging (March 1-2)
And while we encourage parents to set daily, weekly, and monthly rhythms of unplugging, we also believe it is critical for parents to use time on screens to deepen relationships and connect with their kids in meaningful ways. So, in the upcoming weeks, you will also find helpful tips about connecting online, including:
group text struggles + solutions
entering the video game world + helping them re-enter the real world
creative ways for grandparents to use tech to connect with grand kids
We’re excited for the weeks ahead, as we dive in and consider this powerful question from Tristan Harris, at the Center for Humane Technology: “At the end of our lives, all we have is our attention and our time. What will be time well spent for ours?”
Our guess is that for many, it won’t be more time on Facebook or Candy Crush…but instead, grabbing a front row seat to the greatest show.