Not a good replacement

two dinner plates on square brown wooden bar table

Photo by Helena Lopes on Pexels.com

So very much has been written about it. Even research studies launched about the effects of it.

You can use it to acquire all kinds of knowledge. You can use it for leisure activities. You can use it to conduct business, purchase items, save an image, learn the latest news, you name it. And we have convinced ourselves we can’t be without it.

Ever.

It must be clutched in our hands. And our eyes must be fixated on it. It’s the cell phone and it’s infiltrated our lives to the point where it truly has become an addiction, as gripping as the strongest drug out there, if you ask me.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not anti-technology. Technology is amazing. It can be life-saving; it has opened up new frontiers in so many fields of study. And it is good when it is used appropriately.

But just like everything else in this world, it depends on how you use it. Use it for the betterment of mankind? Great. Abuse it and go down dark alleyways that harm our fellow man? Terrible.

So how, you may ask, does the simple use of a cellphone do harm? We hear and read a lot about the breakdown of the family in our society. We see articles about the lack of communication even though we have the easiest form of interaction literally at our fingertips with texting on our cells and you can reach anyone anywhere on the cell phone.

Of course, there are a myriad of reasons why we are in this predicament in our society. Why families are falling apart. Why families don’t feel connected to one another even though they may live in the same house. Why we don’t interact verbally with one another in meaningful ways any more….or at all.

I don’t have the answers to these problems, but one thing is as clear to me as those photographic images I can take with my smart phone.

Those smart phones have made us not-so-smart.

Last week, I enjoyed a shopping trip with my daughter and granddaughter. We stopped for lunch at one of our favorite spots which happens to have an indoor play area for children. Of course, Little One wanted to play for a bit with another little girl who was there.

So I stayed at our table and minded the purses and jackets and sipped my unsweetened iced tea while Daughter and Little One entered the play area. I started doing what I usually do when I’m seated alone in a public place….I people watched.

And I got an eye full (although not what you may think) and the idea for this blog post. The restaurant wasn’t overly crowded yet as it usually is at lunchtime because we had decided to grab an early lunch. So in the area where our table was located and where I could view comfortably without turning around, there were approximately 15 people of all ages, including children and a couple of teens.

All of these folks were eating their lunches. None of them had laptops or briefcases with them, so I’m assuming none of them were taking “working lunches” especially at 11 am.

Looking straight ahead, I spied a person on her cell phone. Behind her a woman and two teens on their cells. Next to them, two more people, both on cells. At the next table, a man with eyes glued to his phone and earbuds in his ears. Next to him, a gray-haired couple…you guessed it… scrolling through their phones.

All of them – people of different ages – were so engrossed in their phones that they couldn’t be aware of anything happening around them.

Beside me, a family of four – husband, wife, and two children. The little girl looked to be about six years old or so and the boy probably was around nine or ten. Dad was on his phone while chomping away at his food. Mom too was captivated by her own cell. The boy, earbuds stuck in his ears,  had his cell propped up on the table watching a video. Only the little girl had no phone and she was chatting away….to herself.  All as they ate their lunch.

I wanted to yell, “Put away your darn phones and talk to your family!”

I shook my head to myself and thought no wonder families are falling apart, they don’t even talk to one another at lunch. They don’t pay attention to their kids because they are mesmerized by technology instead of communicating verbally with the human beings right there with them.

I glanced into the play area, waved to our Little One who was having fun playing hide and seek with the other little girl. But then I noticed another disturbing sight. My own daughter was sitting there, entranced in her cell.

What have we become? Humans with eyes only for our cell phones?? Since when is social media, videos, email, texting, whatever entices you to keep that phone in your hand and your eyes glued to its screen become more important than the people around you? The ones you love. The ones you should be spending time with, connecting, sharing, just talking over your day, your thoughts, your ideas. Enjoying the company of family and friends.

Out of those 15 or so people in my view, I saw two people (not including me) without a cell phone attached to their hands. Two human beings – a young man and a young woman probably in their late 20’s – were actually having a conversation. A real, live, face-to-face discussion over lunch. With no cell phones in sight.

Maybe there’s hope for us yet.

“Give the people in your life the gift of your presence by putting down your mobile device.” ~ Kate Northrup

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