During the week I have had conversations with friends about the technological gadgets our children have and how they are altering the quality of their experiences. One friend felt that her adult son will not know the joys of just traveling and enjoying the beauty of a vacation with all that it offers without being “connected” to some mobile device.
Their lives, being filled with all things digital (buzzes, ring tones, access 24/7), means that they are never likely to vacation without the devices and that they are ALWAYS ON to the beck and call of another. Further, they will pay a price for that. This is not exclusive to youth. It affects adults as well.
I realize that I cannot go to a public business luncheon or dinner event without someone plopping down a wad of keys, handbag, wallet, purse, or mobile phone on a lovely table set with linens, china, silver, glassware, and food. These are the new table accessories that most of us have to put up with during the meal by people who never realize how they detract from the aesthetics the host carefully planned for the enjoyment of all, or how they contribute to the unsanitary spread of germs. I dare to think of all the surfaces those items have touched that sit next to my food, silverware, and serving utensils. It is rude.
To sit with someone at a meal who has his/her smart phone on – buzzing away and frequently messaging above or under the table while he/she drops out of conversation with others, signifies to everyone at the table that they do not count to this person. It is a distraction to look at someone doing this while you try to maintain a conversation with others at the table above the drone of vibrating sounds or while you notice disinterest in what is being said. It is a distraction to have a dinner guest in your home being buzzed every two minutes while you and your dinner guests watch him/her look to see who sent the message and each time re-adjust the gadget on your dinner table. It is annoying to see a person at a meal or gathering with a blue tooth in his/her ear, or an iPod earbud. It is out of hand. It is intrusive and just plain rude.
Brendan Greeley likened it to cheating: cheating on one’s work, cheating on one’s spouse; cheating on one’s home; and cheating on one’s kids.
We have heard countless people say of their smart handheld devices, “I can’t live without it.” I wonder, is this the new idolatry - to give technology this kind of power or have it signify our apparent importance in the face of others?
To see something that man created rule his Life with such intensity and to be given dominion over that Life, makes me wonder just that. What is the head and who is the tail when an object is elevated to that much power in one’s daily Life?
© Dr. Drayton-Craig, 2010