Sometimes life can get away from us. We’ve all experienced the fast pace of modern times, but with all the technology available to us in this day and age, we figure we have it all under control. Until we don’t. One day we notice that the majority of our interactions are conducted via email, text message, Twitter, Facebook and the like. We seldom actually speak to one another on the telephone, let alone find the time in our schedule for face-to-face interaction. We think we are winning, but frankly, we’re not.
Doesn’t matter where you are these days, major cities around the globe, a beach, the mountains, grocery shopping, anywhere there are people, the people are face first in one type of technological device or the other. Blackberries, iPhones, iPads, tablets, laptops, bluetooth headsets…all of us are anywhere but “here.” The great Fran Lebowitz once said, and I’m paraphrasing: “Doesn’t matter where you are, when you are doing this (mocks texting) that is where you are.” She went on to comment that no one seems to have the experience of the street any longer. Being one who does not own any of the aforementioned devices, she is always present in the moment and is observing the world around her. She mentioned that she experiences the street life of New York City and she is practically the only one who is doing so. Sad, when you think of it. Imagine being in an amazing atmosphere such as the one in New York City. Cabs buzz by, horns honking, sirens wail in the distance, fascinating people in all modes of dress pass by on the street, some speaking foreign languages. These are all the things that make New York City the amazing urban environment that it is. And most people are staring blankly into all manner of electronic devices, ignoring the world around them. Its tunred us all into introverts.
I have developed a theory about this. People seem to have no tolerance for others these days. No one remembers how to interact with one another in person. No one talks, no one seems to have manners. People on the sidewalk or in shopping malls walk literally right into you. They make no concession to step aside or to walk down one side of an aisle and up the other. There is no discipline, no consideration whatsoever. It makes being out in public a frustrating and irritating experience. It makes you never want to leave the house, which just exacerbates the problem.
What we have here is a nation, no…actually many nations full of people who each day become a tad less able to relate to their fellow humans. And have you noticed that there seems to be more and more anger in the world of late? My theory in that rests in our utter dependence on techie devices as well. Probably the last thing we may care to admit to ourselves, but we need each other. We need the interaction, yet all we do any more is use technology in order to avoid and ignore one another. When this interaction becomes more of a rarity, we withdraw into ourselves and further into our devices. Its human nature to crave human contact and when it is not forthcoming for whatever reason, we get antsy and antsy leads to angry. Eventually, everyone we meet face-to-face gets on our last nerve. Because everyone seems so rude. okay, not “seems,” ARE so rude. Its time we faced facts. We are swiftly becoming a rude race of humans. No one hold the door open for each other. No one even acknowledges one another! But facts are facts and its time we faced them. The first part of fixing a problem is admitting to it. So, there you go.
One of the first things people say about their devices is that it gives them something to do, it becomes a companion when we are stuck someplace waiting. Check out the waiting room of any doctors office or for that matter any metropolitan transit station. Wherever there are people waiting, there are people glued to an iPhone, iPad or insert-name-of-device-of your-choice here. Yes, I am as guilty as the next person at times, but here is the issue. We get hooked on this endeavor until we can’t stop ourselves. Good Lord, if you were ever wont to believe that humans have addictive personalities, simply observe people with their technological device of choice. Its shameful.
What you have are people who treat their device as their best friend, all the while ignoring the flesh and blood best friend seated across the table at dinner. I’ve seen it. I’ve done it. I mean, how shaming it is when you finally agree to meet a friend you have not seen in while and they have to remind you that they are THERE and it’s not necessary to text them? Abominable behavior. Yet it happens all the time. We really should all be ashamed of ourselves. I’m not kidding.
Frankly, I find it frightening to contemplate how far down this rabbit hole we will go with this. What is it going to take for the majority of humanity to put down the devices and get back to basics? How long do we continue to ignore each other? Until we are no longer capable to holding a conversation? Socially awkward people certainly find comfort in utilizing a device to communicate rather than having face-to-face interactions. Don’t believe me? Look at the success of social media platforms like Twitter. There are a good number of people who sit in their homes day after day casting off the “real world” full of “real human beings” and “real experiences” in order to talk to mostly nameless, faceless people on Twitter. It has been my experience that these folks are typically incapable of having “real” friends. They lack the confidence to interact with flesh and blood people, forming real friendships. This is all they are capable of. Its unfathomable to me that there are people who stay indoors away from others making this their preferred form of interaction. Contrary to what they may think, these are not real relationships.
So here is what I propose. Get up, lie the device down and go out to dinner. Head to the local coffeehouse, read a book, visit your local library, join a club…just talk to somebody! Interact with something other than a device. Sure, they have a purpose. But not one person from Steve Jobs on down ever intended their wonder devices to replace human to human contact. They never intended for our devices to take the place of friends and family. Yet, that is what seems to be happening.
All I know is we need to get a grip before its too late. Actually, we need to loosen our grip. On the iPhone, the iPad, the tablet, the BlackBerry and talk to one another. Before its too late. Before life becomes painfully tight in the crotch.