I was at a restaurant and a family was sitting close to me. Each one of its members was busy fidgeting with a cell phone. Texting, or seeing something on the web or playing some game. They were entranced by their phones until food was served. Then there was silence as they ate. Was it typical?
Wherever I go, people talk to their phone, very often in a loud voice, so I can hear everything they say. So many loud voices!
I wait in line at the post office and despite the sign saying no cell phones, the phones ring and I end up next to a lady busy having a private conversation that all can hear.
Others seem like lunatics as they cross by you loudly talking to ... no one it seems, until you notice the phone -- on their ear.
Do you go walking sometimes? MP3 players are attached to someone's ears and they are too busy listening to hear your steps. My husband and I passed a very erratic driver and I looked through his window and he was not looking at the road but was busy texting and we all know of the dangers of texting while driving. An accident is harm to one self but also to others plus the damage to property.
Children play with X-Boxes and communicate this way with each other. It is interesting. The gadgets of our time have us hooked to their convenience and their appeal.
It could be a laptop or mini-laptop or some of these gadgets to read a downloaded book. I wonder if there is a connection between the obesity in America and the fact that many of us stay inactive playing with our gadgets.
We are the generation that has no refuge for our thoughts. Any time the phone can ring and reach you no matter where you are. Driving? Yes it will reach you. Talking to friends? The phone will ring. On vacation? The phone is at your waist or in your purse. No matter what you are doing, the phone is the constant companion that will emit this ring tone (often loud) of your choice and you will feel compelled to answer or to text. Most of the time.
I am of a generation when none of these things existed. Lunch or dinner was an opportunity to talk and listen. Families would exchange ideas and I remember lively conversations with my parents. Family events were so important because the whole tribe was around and talked and told old stories and new ones that made us laugh. We talked and we listened. Children played with each other, got angry, fought and laughed -- outside. There was not the danger of being abducted, being killed, or maimed. Such things were rare. We were safely outside playing-- with each other.
Has all of this gone with the wind? I do not think so. But the gadgets of our times have us prisoners of their convenience and they never seem to rest. All day they are present, reminding us of work, of others, of cyber beings of other realities that never existed before. We can embody a whole new identity in cyberspace. Is that good? Perhaps and perhaps not. Those gadgets drag us to their realm whether we are in a car or at the office or at home. Scientists are already looking into our addictions and telling us that it often stills our creativity.
Multitasking is another fallacy of our time since the brain only tackles one thing at a time. Do we go rapidly from one thing to the other? Yes we do, and it looks like multitasking even though it is not.
I use no cell phone, no texting, and go in a car with my brain and my thoughts. I can imagine, dream, recall, anticipate, feel, grieve or rejoice at will. I use the uninterrupted silence of my mind as a canvas where my ideas and creativity take place.
At home I get the phone when it rings and use my beloved e-mail, but besides taking my laptop on business trips, I feel free and guess what? I also talk with friends if we are together at a dinner table. Life is so full of events, of happenings; I feel full, much too full of news, full of facts to digest and things to delete. That is enough for me.
But let the gadgets of our time beckon and who know? I may not be able to resist.
Copyright 2010 Micheline Brierre
Editing by Barry Kaplan