In the world today, technology, it seems, is the end all, be all of life. Every technological advance makes headline news. Once a device hits the store, people line up for miles. Copy cat products are made to stimulate the competition. Having in one’s possession the latest and greatest contraption is not only a huge status symbol but also a huge ego booster. Yet, despite the whirl wind craze about technology, all the different cell phone varieties and plans, the limited character count of Twitter, the status field of Facebook, and email, communication, specifically live communication, is becoming more and more extinct.
There have been several different clues of this sad occurrence. The first came as I was taking care of business in a public ladies restroom. I heard someone entering, go into a stall next to mine and proceed. Then I heard her talking. I thought, ‘Is she talking to me?!?!?!’ After a minute, I realized she was attending to the task at hand while talking on her cell phone. Now, I admit, I have taken my cordless, landline phone into my bathroom at home and had a conversation. Even in a motel, I have used my cell in the room’s bathroom. However, these spaces are private, resulting in the person on the other end of the phone not knowing what room I am in as well as no one else having access to my conversation. Plus, how important is a call to justify a person answering it in a public facility?!?!?! Or is the sanctity of privacy also becoming extinct?
The second clue is in signage form. Maybe you have noticed this as well. Enter any doctor’s office, hospital, church, library or movie theater and one can witness the following, kindly refrain from cell phone use; out of respect for our other patrons, please make sure your cell phone is on quiet or vibrate; no cell phone use beyond this point; please take cell phone use away from desk and other public areas; during your appointment please refrain from cell phone usage; and my favorite use of your cell phone at window will open trap door you are standing on.
The third clue inadvertently appeared at a former job in a town I shall label B’ham. This town is known for up scale shops, pricier homes, and a ‘rich’ atmosphere. As I walked the streets, I noticed the majority of people chatting on their cell phones appeared not only stressed but also displayed uptight and constipated looks on their faces. The ONLY person to person contact I was able to elicit was with two homeless people. Every time we encountered each other, we spoke a greeting and flashed a smile. And despite the circumstances, or maybe because of them, all of us appeared to enjoy the day because our lives were not ruled by an electronic device.
The fourth clue happened on a trip up north, a couple of years ago. I used to have a phone service promoting no annual contracts, unlimited talk, unlimited data and unlimited text plans starting at $40 a month. Super deal, right? I thought so, initially. However, here in Michigan, this particular service cuts out in some areas, resulting in a dead phone. As I ventured up north, I found my phone becoming R.I.P. after I passed Saginaw. Did I panic? At first I did, realizing contact was denied to anyone if an emergency arose or I needed roadside assistance. However, after a few seconds, the panic subsided as I thought, ‘I am on vacation. No cell phone. YIPPPEEE!!!!!!!!!!’ Now, though, due to the move towards single womanhood, I have traded in that phone, resorting to a pay as you go version. Not as many bells and whistles but this one costs me $19.99 a month, and has been loyally active in all areas assuring me service if I absolutely require it.
The fifth clue is comprised of new state laws showing up in the last couple of years or so about texting and driving. Many people have gotten in accidents or died as a result of this so car companies are adding hands free systems allowing the driver to communicate through Bluetooth, phone apps are available which disable the texting feature, and across the country, laws are in effect banning use of phones while driving or letting users know tickets, with high fines, will be distributed if caught.
The sixth clue is becoming more and more relevant. I am sure you have witnessed it too. Let me set the scene…it is lunch or dinner hour. The restaurant is packed with families, friends, and other assorted large groups. TV’s and piped in music are blaring in the background. As one looks around the room, it is apparent there are few and far between interactions going on between the guests. However, notice the dad/mom engaging on their phone while their kids are loudly voicing their protest over the inattention. How bout the guests over there…both dinners have arrived, but the people are too busy on their cells to notice. And how is at your own table? I know at mine, I have to verbally remind my own boys to power off. I even gone so far as to request they leave their phones at home or in the car. Not always easy for them but one I deem necessary.
Finally, the last clue showed up, a couple of years ago, at a family gathering. Most of the ‘young’ people, meaning 25 and under were gathered, side by side on the coach, engrossed in doing business on their cell phones. All of us ‘older’ folk were spaced in different groups around the room, conversing face to face. During the evening, I had an opportunity to observe and listen to the goings on of everyone. What struck me were the youngsters, despite sitting as close as they were, preceded to text each other. One of them mentioned, with a laugh, how at his work place, no one verbally addressed anyone, even if the cubicles were next to each other. Instead, a quick text was substituted. As I sat watching and listening, I was saddened. For, in this world of technicality, how will this generation really get to know another person’s life story? How will this generation be able to intuit another person’s emotional state? How will this generation come up with innovative, creative, out of the box ideas? And how will this generation survive if the electronic grid fails?
Ions ago there was a company promoting the product they produced with the following motto:
Is it live or is it Memorex?
Isn’t it time to tame the technology beast and get back in touch with being alive? After all, is that not why we are called HUMAN beings and not techno beings?
Think about it, especially as the holiday season approaches. And maybe, when gathering with friends or family, traveling, exercising or just living day to day, you could turn off technology for one day a week, and turn on the world. Who knows? You may develop a new friendship, witness the gorgeousness nature has to offer, brighten someone’s day with your smile or a comment, contribute to the safety of your and someone else’s life, rekindle long forgotten relationships or maybe, just maybe, fire up your Spirit and be the difference this world is crying for. Try it. I guarantee you and the person on the other end will not be disappointed.
Blessings till next we meet again,