Last night, at a holiday dinner party, I met a woman who was turning 90 years old. She made a conscious decision not to engage her mind learning the computer or other smart devices. Instead she finds Judge Judy a relaxing alternative to Facebook. Watching her daughter’s frustration from the sideline was more than enough to keep her from choosing to talk to Sari, the human robot.
Do you feel left out because you don't have an iPad or iPhone, but wonder if you need one?
Lately it is becoming ever more difficult to keep up with the fast-paced change of technology. Everyone insists they do not know how they ever functioned before owning a sleek and portable device with access to information 24/7. However, I am distracted and increasingly overwhelmed by my cell phone, Facebook, tweeting, and website maintenance. It is more than a full-time job keeping up with Zuckerberg’s endless barrage of unsupervised attempts to garnish more private information than the FBI.
Looking around, I see that I am not alone. Forget chemtrails, social media distraction is a more blatant and serious threat to the survival of community. Last week at a birthday celebration, the table set with three generations of family, I was shocked; no sooner was the desert served than the grownups took out their smart phones and began playing a game separately—together! The children were perched on their parents' shoulders watching. Cruising the rest of the restaurant, it was clearly spring break and every other table was engaged in a similar display of poor manners: the parents teaching their progeny that cell phones are acceptable table companions, and worse, a way of spending time together! At a recent party, the same thing, 20 people sitting around a room and a third of them texting to each other?
Adults are the worst offenders. Last night at the holiday dinner, the conversation zeroed in on iPods and iPads, leaving little time to find out how an 89-year-old woman thrived so well in our changing world. Vote me guilty; I, too, was perched on my elbows listening and engaged—but I find myself increasingly separate from real dialogue and honest connection. Lately, despite my 12,000 or more connections on Facebook, I feel disconnected from the mountains and community. Engagement now defines the number of people who share your post or comment on a picture.
The glassy touch screen has replaced debate and engaged conversation. It is a poor substitute. But she who has kept up fastest on technology sits in the throne leading the conversation.
The ham was washed down with talk of shortcuts, security infringement, and frustrating conversations with scripted technicians from India. This is what we have settled on as a community as worthwhile dinner conversation.
Perhaps it has been a slow process of putting ourselves to sleep. Front and center in my mind was the black and white movie I watched the night before, To Kill a Mocking Bird, which reminded me of my childhood, an era of black and white T.V., racism, and a lifestyle that invented large screen stories of the imagination based on one's immediate surroundings. Don’t get me wrong, I'm extremely happy that a global world is helping to end racist mindsets based on ignorance. However, even though I can now communicate with clients in Europe using Skype, I also mourn the loss of familiarity with my community and current location.
Driving down the road you see people looking down instead of looking out at the mountains.
Yes, I am as guilty as the next. One friend has me turn off the phone when I visit, while another continues to text while we hike. This spring I am ready to work on a moratorium in my life to unplug several hours a day. Reading text messages before my morning coffee will no longer be allowed. Clients will have to accept that I check my messages a few times a day rather than the moment they send. This pressing topic is going to be a chapter in my forthcoming book, Tools for Awakening. This is surely a place we are sleeping.
In May I will go to a small village in Mexico. Perhaps you should join me in unplugging for a week. I am 98% convinced that despite an additional 700 e-mails in my inbox, not much else will have changed, unless of course they come out with the iPad 5.
Renee Baribeau also known as The Practical Shaman is a business/life coach and social media expert. She teaches monthly teleclasses on Soul Inspired Business Networking. She is also a life coach who specializes in restoring balance to your successful life.