Do you remember the time when people used to tell you things face to face? They would take time out of their lives to stop by your place or work, or invite you out for a drink to tell you happy birthday. They would send you a birthday card in the mail or write you a letter? Do you remember how good it felt to get a letter or a postcard in the mail? How about when people got engaged and call you up, or ran over to your place to squeal and show off the ring? Now, if you’re not on a social media you don’t know any of these things.
Do you remember when you could hear someone’s voice beside you, or reach over and touch a friend?
Yeah–those days are few as we get older. Not because we are particularly busy but because even when someone is beside us, across from us, we insist on ignoring them for a cold, sterile piece of technology.
Don’t get me wrong. I love technology–most of the time. Those times when it’s not eating my partially finished manuscripts, malfunctioning so I miss my streetcar, overreacting so I freak out, shutting down at the worse times–you get my meaning. After all these years and as far as technology has come, it can often times be useful. I mean, I wouldn’t have ‘met’ so many of my readers had it not been for facebook or twitter or a website. I wouldn’t have met some awesome people if it hadn’t been for these same things. Writing books that takes place in Japan or South Korean wouldn’t have been possible for me because, let’s face it, can’t afford to travel to these places in real life. But, with google earth, everything is possible.
Sometimes, I go dark. I shut down facebook, and twitter and instagram and all these social media. I turn off my cell phone and watch movies all day. People wonder why I do that. Well, sometimes I just need a mental health day. Sometimes, I want to be left alone and not be worried about notifications, and replying to messages and dealing with the drama that social media often times brings into our lives.
Before social media, we didn’t know how big of an ass some people truly are and I was fine with that. We didn’t know who was sleeping with who, who was getting a divorce unless we were told and spoilers for our favorite shows? What spoilers?
Why this post?
Last weekend, it was a friend’s birthday. We planned a weekend filled with drinking, good food, laughter, shopping and other female debauchery. The day came, we met up, life is good. But I spent the weekend constantly asking her to put the phone away. I mean, we hadn’t seen each other for close to a year, though we spoke every day.
A few days later, another friend was having a bad day. It was well after eight at night and usually once I got home and the bra came off, I was in–no more going out unless that was the plan and if so, when I enter the apartment, the bra stays on.
Yup, I am one of THOSE people.
But, hearing her troubles, and the worry in her voice, I got dressed once more, ventured on the streetcar to meet her for a few drinks and just to talk. But, same story, she spends most of her time, sitting across from me, tapping away at her cell, not saying anything. My irritation boiled over, I grabbed my purse, paid for my half of drink and stormed out. Sure, she ran after me but I didn’t stop walking. Thankfully, a streetcar was at the stop and I merely climbed on and away I went, fuming.
Here’s the thing–yes, I am aware that our phones are glued to us. But when does that become a hindrance and an irritation?
Yes, I am guilty of having my cell close by when I go out and that’s because instead of carrying a camera to most places, I use my phone because I take pictures of the food I eat when I go out–I have nothing else to post on instagram.
I’m walking down the street on the bus or just moving about my life and I watch people. And they’ll get on the bus, pay their fare and sit down beside some complete stranger, all without looking up. We don’t know what’s going on around us because we’re so focused on the screen. We try to always be reading about other people’s lives when we don’t know what’s going on in ours. Or our lives are falling apart and we have no clue. Their friends are going through things and no one has any clue.
More and more we hear someone committed suicide and we think well I didn’t know anything was wrong with so and so. or I didn’t see anything wrong. Of course you wouldn’t have seen anything wrong. When was the last time you’d looked up from the screens before you to take a good look at So and So? When was the last time, with all the time you spend on these pieces of lifeless things that you actually, called So and So?
For a culture so obsessed with keeping in touch, we’re so out of touch with the people who matters. I have a friend who is constantly on her phone–yet, if I send her a text it is hours or even days later that I get a reply. I mean, the damn thing is practically glued into her hand. It takes two seconds to reply to a message and move on.
My point is, You invite someone out, put the phone away for the time you’re together. This is especially important when you haven’t seen the other person for some time. The honest to goodness truth is, if I wanted to talk to the top of your head I would have stayed home and used facetime or we could talk over the phone. We’ve become addicted to our cellphones, addicted to tapping away with our heads down that life is whizzing by us, we’re losing people who love without knowing them because we haven’t looked at them once.
We’re wasting so much time, glued to our phones that we miss the best things in life pass us by. So, please, at least once in a while, put down the p hone and look up. See the people, places and things around you. Because one day you’re going to look up and you’re not going to recognize those around you or where you are.