Back in 2008 when Wally first fell in love with Eva, a fear crept into our hearts. Would we really become a generation of people glued to a screen, and having no disregard for our waste? Today I have that answer, Gate C-16 confirms it.
I’m waiting for a flight to visit my father-in-law in Richmond. Suddenly I realize that out of 73 people waiting for the same flight, 68 of them have a phone, tablet, or laptop in their face. I will admit it, I was on mine as well. I was bored with it though and decided to talk to someone. As I searched for someone to talk to, most people’s body language suggested they had absolutely no intention to talk to anyone. So Instead I started to study their faces, and tried to imagine what was happening inside the black hole of their attention.
There was a businessman (it was New Years Eve BTW) calling tech support to download a program onto his laptop so his work wouldn’t be interrupted. Next to him sat his two young teenagers. A boy and a girl, and even though they sat right next to him you could literally see the space between them. It was almost as if they were not related. Their mother (I found this out later) sat two spaces away from all of them. In her lap was a book, a tablet and a laptop. She switched between the three of them as the minutes wore on.
I finally decided to speak to my husband, and share my insights. I can talk to him while he is on his phone, which isn’t often. He agreed with me that me post-Wally assumptions were correct. With that, I returned to my study. Among the non-screen dwellers sat: An elderly couple holding hands, speaking to each other and smiling. They were behind me, and in front of me a mother reading a story book to her child they laughed and giggled as her husband sat reading a hard copy novel two seats away.
My focus returned to electronics users who included two women dressed in exercise clothes, no doubt on health related sites. Another teenage boy who pounded his screen repeatedly. I’m sure he was killing something. A business woman, struggling with charts and trying to hold onto her laptop at the same time. Two older teen aged girls sharing one phone back and forth. Most assuredly they were on social media as well.
The rest of the screen surveyors were wearing blank faces with no emotion. Surrounded by trash that no one really noticed. Dropped loyalty cards, straw papers, food that had fallen from packages, rubber bands, and crumpled up pieces of paper. Things that those who have already boarded had left behind. It looked like someone had turned over a refuse can and walked away.
As we were boarding the flight, one of the girls in front of me was having a phone conversation by this point. Her phone in her pocket with protruding wires connected to her ears. She managed to hand in her boarding pass, walk past two flight attendants and the pilot take her seat next to someone else, and put up her carry on all without missing a beat in the dialogue. However she hadn’t realized that a half-dozen people spoke to her on the way.
Call me nosy if you will, but I come from a generation of people that existed before someone placed value on a hunk of metal and glass. The prices continue to rise on our precious little boxes and we continue to fork out the money. I’m no exception I own three devices myself. The more we pay for them and the more things they do for us, the more engrossed in them we become. I hear a lot of people talking about no phone days, or phone-less suppers, but they never stick. People go right back to dining in silence. Not noticing each other or their surroundings.
When my kids were small we traveled, grocery shopped, and visited relatives all without cell phones. We saw them on TV and cartoons but they were a fantasy. We never dreamed we would own one or that it would own us.
I saw a commercial one time about all that a person misses while walking with a phone. It is very enlightening. I wish I could direct you to it, but I don’t have the URL. The worse thing I saw in the airport was a father with his two little girls at security. They were trying to load their backpacks on the belt in a bin but kept dropping them. They just weren’t strong enough to complete the task. All the while his face was glued to his best friend, the phone. He never knew they were having such a hard time. Finally they worked together and got the back packs on. He placed his phone in a tray unaware his little girls had once needed him.
What will you miss today? What will I? Better yet will we care? Sure we will, we are not inhuman, we are not monsters. However caring about something, suggests we have to know about it first.