I am typing this on a laptop, to post to a blog, on what I like to call the interweb, so I am not completely behind the times. I do still have a dumb phone. It’s a simple flip phone, no data plan, no keyboard even, just calling (and texting, as of last year!)
I am repeatedly turned off by all the hype of the latest gadgets. I couldn’t care less if I have the latest and greatest in tech. Some would say I’m missing out. But then I see a video posted on facebook. It’s about the depressing fact that people are constantly on their phones and missing out on truly living in the moments going on around them. So, wherein lies the truth? Am I actually better off being low-tech?
A pet peeve that can really get my blood boiling quickly is for a person with whom I am attempting to spend time to ignore me or what we are doing to instead focus on a gadget. Turning their gaze to their phone, their laptop, their tablet, or whatever screen catches their attention, they are telling me that whatever we are doing together is not enough. Something on that screen is a more appealing use of their energy. They would rather be doing that than interacting with me. My urge at that point is to do one of three things:
1. Grab their gizmo and throw it outside.
2. Grab them and throw them outside.
3. Attempt to win their attention back by:
a. letting them know they are being rude or hurting my feelings
b. threatening to throw their gadget or them outside
I usually end up falling back on plan 3a. However, there are many times when I resort to #4. Feel a little sad, rejected, and lonely that the person whose company I desire must be shared with a screen, but say and do nothing.
I do realize that it’s often not simply a screen that is stealing that person’s time, it is another person. They aren’t simply playing a game, making yet another facebook post, or surfing the web. They are texting, emailing, or otherwise communicating with another human being. That does not make me feel any better. If you’d rather be interacting with that person, go be with them. Don’t stay here with me but ignore me. If that’s how it’s going to be, I’d rather be interacting with someone else too.
Yes, yes. There are exceptions. And, yes, I have been on my phone while I’m with others. There are hundreds of scenarios we could discuss here. But I am sure you realize I am not referring to checking the movie times in order to go to a show together later that day, or answering a text from a spouse asking when you will be home, or dozens of other legitimate or necessary distractions.
Yet, these can be done fairly quickly, and with explanation. Otherwise, the person you are with is left wondering what’s going on that’s more important than your time with them. It’s like you’re leading a double life – only half there with them. You are busy doing secret things on your device that they are not involved with for some reason. It’s like whispering in one person’s ear in a group of eight people. It’s just rude.
Would I be tempted more to do this myself if I were higher tech oriented? Possibly. Maybe it’s good for me to stay low-tech then. I doubt that will be possible for long in our society. When our iPhones are surgically implanted devices that communicate directly with our eyes, speech, and thoughts, it will be hard to escape.
Maybe I should just accept this new mode of interaction as norm, and not feel rejected and annoyed. Maybe I should try to be interesting or loving enough to keep that other person from turning to the screen. Maybe I should try to be more excited about the technology available to us. Or, maybe I should go all Sarah Connor and be prepared for Skynet.