Relationships not want you want them to be? Might be time to put down the cell phone. Find out why.
Maybe it’s my age, but suddenly I see the toll the digital age had taken on our population. It starts small. My daughter and I returned to our former city for an orthodontic appointment. I thought it might be nice for her to see some of her old friends. We stopped at a Chinese restaurant where she started texting her friend. I offered to drive her to her friend’s house that she was texting.
“No problem, she’s at the other table.” She gestured in that direction.
“Don’t you want to go over there?”
“No, I’m happy to text. Besides, she’s with her grandmother.”
The girls texted through the entire meal. They didn’t connect to who they were sitting with and refused to connect face to face. The cell phone has become the wall preventing true communication. It keeps people at a distance.
It’s not unusual to see people on cell phones while shopping, walking, even while eating at restaurants. My husband and I are at the age that we enjoy a meal out with conversation. Other diners enter the restaurant staring at their phones. A few carry tablets to watch television shows or movies as opposed to interacting with whoever they came with. Occasionally, I look around the room trying to identify those who were conversing with one another.
Most talkers are people with a touch of silver in their hair or are possibly on a first date. A few watch televisions placed around the mid-range restaurant, when not checking their cell phone. This failure to interact cuts across socio-economic groups. It causes people to make assumptions. Even with emoticons, it is hard to judge real emotions via text. It causes less cohesiveness in the work place.
I travel to various schools and the best place to feel the mood of the building is the teacher lounge. Often, I walk into the lounges where everyone has a phone out and refuses to speak to anyone. They may glance up, but return to text or roam the Internet. At other schools, teachers meet for lunch and discuss school, students, and their lives. I noticed at the talking lunches, the employees appear happier.
Our dependence on cell phones has resulted in people not memorizing simple math facts, knowing general knowledge or even how to read a map. People suddenly freak out when they lose cell reception or their battery goes dead. It’s as if their life has stopped. Students beg the janitor to let them into the building when they forget their phone at school.
The traditional way of doing things such as reading maps, memorizing math facts, and being able to hold a conversation are vanishing like a vapor. I found in my interaction with students that they often can’t read general social clues. What we sometimes view as rudeness is lack of experience.
Often people mistakenly think their cyber relationships are more fulfilling than their face to face ones. What they fail to realize is people lie online. It is opportunity to create a fantasy persona. Often, we perceive people as we want them to be. It’s why people are so easy to catfish (fool on online). It’s also the reason online dating sites urge you to meet the person as soon as possible as opposed to having a cyber relationship.
Did that. Before I married, I corresponded with a man for a year exchanging daily info, jokes, and pleasantries. I never met him even though I suggested several meetings. Women friends told me he was married. Possibly, truthfully, he was probably not the persona he created online. That’s another way the digital age keeps us from forming real relationships.
Heart to heart conversations where we reveal who we are is falling by the wayside with handwritten letters, foldable maps, and camera film. Yesterday, I handed a Walgreens employee in the photo department a roll of film and he asked me what it was. That’s another blog.