As I sat in the uncomfortable waiting area chair, I situated my purse, grabbed my phone and prepared to pass the time with some mind numbing Facebook, spider solitaire, or whatever I might find on Pinterest. I had also brought my latest edition of Runners World to peruse if Facebook wasn’t “interesting enough”.
Then I started to notice the people around me, just outside of my periphery. A lady corralling a toddler on one side, a man standing; eyeing me and all the other smartphone holders with contempt, someone behind me sneezed. All while a computerized voice over the loud speaker droned on and on, announcing the next customer in line.
As I looked around more closely, nearly everyone had a phone or tablet in their hands. One lady I happened to see was playing a slot machine game until her number was called, another was furiously tapping out a text or an email.
I immediately felt sort of melancholy. If our faces weren’t perpetually fixed on a screen, there might have been pleasant small talk. People would have engaged each other.
I slipped my phone back into my purse as I gazed at the sunlight streaming through the blinds. I wonder if our kids will be able to just sit and be, or are we teaching them to constantly “have something to do” and be unceasingly entertained?
I smiled as a nurse walked by. She smiled back. The toddler a few seats down met my eyes and escaped his mother’s grasp to wander down and get a closer look me. His mother and I laughed at what a playful boy he was. The lady behind me told me how smart her grandkids were when it came to computers and “new-fangled gadgets”.
For a moment, It felt like it used to just a few short years ago, before a phone became the extension of most of our fingertips. Now I’m not saying that phones are evil or bad, or that the technology is the devil, but sometimes I wonder just how “connected” it really makes us. Do we really need to see a picture of someone’s awesome lunch, or might we be better served by playing with the toddler in the next seat over, having a pleasant conversation with a grandma that is missing her family, or just being in a rare quiet moment to do nothing but breathe?
It makes me wonder if it’s worth it. Is the price of technology and never ending connection to media worth the sacrifice of real-life interaction?