The world is a very busy place. If you don’t believe me, pay attention to how people respond when you ask them how they are doing. “I’m busy” or “fine but busy” tends to be the regular response. I have also been very aware as to how often people are making the comment “where has time gone?” Maybe at 50 I am realizing the real value of time and how I have wasted so much of it over my 50 years. Perhaps it’s the fact that my boys range from 25 down to 8 and time plays tricks on me. This is especially true when I look at my 8-year-old and think back to my time with my 25-year-old when he was 8. Maybe, and more likely these days, it’s the fact I see what we are calling busy is being created by what I view as “empty calories”.

Web MD states the following around empty calories: “Soda, candy, chips…what do they all have in common? They are all top sources of what many dietitians refer to as “empty calories.” The American Heritage College dictionary defines “empty” as “holding or containing nothing.” And for all the calories these foods add to your diet, they bring along almost nothing else for your body — very little vitamins or minerals, very little fiber or phytochemicals.” I believe relationally there are also items in our everyday life that act as empty calories and it is having the same type of impact on our relationships…” they bring along nothing else”. We are filling our lives up with social media and apps that steal time away from our relationships, make us feel full but leave us with no relational value.

Let me start with on-line apps. It’s only been since the 2000’s that on-line gaming has been around. In 2008 Apple introduced the world to the App store and the mobile gaming market took off. In 2009 a study emerged that finds 3 million children are addicted and dependent on games and by 2013 video game addiction is recognized a legitimate psychological disorder. In 2016 mobile video games alone made over $40 billion worldwide and today “games” is the most popular category in the Apple App store.

Now take a look at social media. It is estimated that nearly one quarter of an American’s work day is spent browsing social media for non-work-related activities. Around 28% of iPhone users check their Twitter feed before getting out of bed in the morning. The percentage of Facebook users who cannot go without checking their account every few hours is 18%. The average Facebook user spends 17 minutes on it once they log in and there are 1.23 billion users who log in every day. That equals 39,757 years of our time collectively on Facebook in a single day.

There are many people filling up their time with wasted relational calories. People say they are on social media for the connection and yet they ignore the people in the same room with them while looking at the lives of those who they may not even know. In Mandt we want to make sure the relationships we form enhance the lives of others with real value. We want to insure we are engaged and present with those who are around us. I am challenging myself to stop filling up on empty relational calories like social media and become more filled with the people right in front of me. Are you with me?

Tim Geels – SVP Corporate Instruction & Implementation