It’s a photo that’s going viral: two young baseball players sitting next to each other—but seemingly both preoccupied with their phones.
Seeing it out of context, you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking it was a perfect example of our tech-obsessed, anti-social era. How could these kids be so consumed by their phones that they ignore the game and each other?
But it turns out, these kids are smarter than that—and the photo had a surprisingly uplifting explanation.
The truth is, they’re not ignoring each other. On the contrary:
They’re using their phones as language translators.
The photo was taken at the ongoing Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. ESPN contributor Bob Holtzman was in the athlete village when he saw the two young athletes.
One of the players was from the South Dakota team, and the other from the predominantly Spanish-speaking Dominican Republic. To bridge the language barrier, the two began conversing with the Google Translate app.
He shared the touching moment on Twitter, where it has been retweeted over 9,000 times.
We talk a lot about how the effect smartphones have on social skills, especially among children, but this story shows that there’s a flip side—sometimes technology helps us communicate like never before.
This also shows the power of sportsmanship. The Little League World Series brings kids from all over the world together, and it’s inspiring that these two would make the effort to reach out to a stranger from a different culture and language (on a rival team) to make a connection—and, presumably, talk baseball.
Both teams have since been eliminated from the championship. But even if they didn’t walk away with the trophy, at least they’ll walk away with some new perspective, and maybe a new friendship.