Well, for my last blog of 2011, I’m gonna rant a little (ok, I guess a lot). I’m not gonna chat about wine – sorry, if you’re looking for words of wisdom for what to drink on New Years, you should have that figured out already.
What I’ve reflected on lately is the curse of modern technology; specifically, laptops/iphones that everyone carries. True, these new wonders have sped up our lives, made us more efficient, and quite frankly, reduced a lot of excess use of natural resources (trees/paper for one). What this technology has also done, unfortunately, is made us forget common manners, and reduced our opportunities for experiencing new things and meeting new people.
Let me share with you some experiences and examples:
Flying. We can open laptops, watch movies, flip through 50 channels on our own personal in-flight screens, and even play video games. I’ve now become more accustomed to channel surfing than chatting with the people around me on airplanes. True, I’ve met some odd people; but I’ve also met some very interesting people over shared stories on a long flight. Not any more! We now sit side-by-side for 5 hours completely tuned in to our own personal environment/entertainment system. This also goes for buses – I rode Muni in San Francisco for years and have seen a lot of strange things on the bus. I have also met some great people on the bus, and am happy that two of them have been among my closest friends for 10+ years.
Holidays. A few Thanksgivings ago, a group of friends gathered for the big feast. As we sat down, two people continued to take pics on their phone to send to their friends that weren’t at the table. Their texting continued as we started eating. Finally (and thankfully) the rest of us chastized the texters to put down their phones and enjoy the moment with their friends of the here and now. I grew up without this as my mother would never allow us to either: (a) be on the phone during meal times or (b) have the tv on. These great rules helped keep the family values of meal time sacred. So when did texting become acceptable during dinnertime?
I’ve seen this behavior all-too-often at restaurants, during movies, among passengers in my car. People are missing the opportunity to be present and enjoy those around them!
Alright, you get my point. New technology is great. We are far more efficient; the world moves faster around us; we can multitask. I have this technology, but I try to be a responsible user. And you know what? This technology didn’t exist 20 years ago but the younger generations can’t imagine life without it. My parents didn’t have all this technology and access to everything at every moment, and they were wonderful people and great parents. And their parents barely had access to television! I’m sure that about 80% of the world’s population lives without all this extra stuff. So, to better appreciate all that is going on around me, I have occasionally gone out for dinner and intentionally left my phone at home. It is one of the most invigorating feelings of independence! I encourage you to try it. But most of all, if you’re going to spend time surfing aimlessly on the web, take a moment to look up what Miss Manners says about proper etiquette when it comes to ichat/games/etc in a social environment.
Happy New Year to all, and be sure to take some time to enjoy and appreciate the living, breathing people around you!