Technology has undoubtedly improved our abilities to connect to people from around our neighborhood to around the world. But I am beginning to wonder whether we are too preoccupied with our cell phones and social media to notice the world around us and/or the people in it. Are we simply living alongside technology and embraces it advantages or are we living for it?
Countless means of communication and connectivity are certainly valuable in business with social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter bridging the gap between consumers and businesses, not to mention the networking and advertising opportunities they create. But now that sites and apps such as these have hit the mainstream and become a part of our culture it has created a new dynamic, one in which people have become consumed by technology. Too often nowadays these vast channels of communication have become a substitute for actual communication, and a convenient, yet poor substitute for actual face-to-face communication.
A few weeks ago I was at a concert, excited to see a brand new band. As I eagerly awaited the start of the show and the club started to get a little bit more crowded, the moment finally arrived and the curtains were pulled back. I stood there in the back of the club, standing on some stairs, at a perfect vantage point to see the stage and then something happened that I could not believe. As soon as the band started playing a sea of cell phones and tablets flew into the air as people snapped pictures and recorded video of the concert. Now, I consider myself to be a fairly reasonable person and I understand that people want to capture this moment, and I would be fine with it if it only went on for a little bit, but it seemed like people were more concerned with documenting every song and every movement without looking past their screens to see it happening in real time. There were sefies being snapped, vines being recorded, status’ being updated and Instagram feeds being filled; but I saw very little of people actually enjoying the concert in the moment. People also had no problem pushing you out of the way or blocking your view so that they could get the perfect shot either. It seemed more important to them to broadcast the “fun” they were having without actually engaging in any of it.
Now it may be acceptable to document something like a concert, but what about the everyday moments like a simple visit to the grocery store, going to school or walking your dog when you encounter real, living and breathing people? I have noticed that a simple greeting and a smile, or getting people to look up from their phones to notice that they are about to walk right into you is like pulling teeth. I understand if you are waiting on a heart transplant, or you have a sick relative on their deathbed, or you have young kids at home, then it is perfectly acceptable to do what you have to do and we will all understand.
I do recall a time in history when we all managed to survive before the invention of such communication devices and I’m sure we could all do it again today. I’m not saying you have to give technology up completely, I am simply asking that you put the phone down, step away from the computer and take a look outside, or say hello to a stranger. Just take a moment to be fully present, you might actually enjoy it!
Image courtesy of Gabriela Pinto