Friday, 5 July 2013

Look Up! There Goes A Human...

A friend of mine was having her bridal shower somewhere on the island. I arrived the venue with another mutual friend of ours; said hello to the other ladies already seated and sat down.

And time went by. And went by…and went by… The quiet in the restaurant struck me as strange. 10-15 ladies unknown to one another seated at a roundtable with zero conversation going on. Every single person had their eyes fixed on their smartphones with different expressions splashed on their faces.

Being the usual fly on the wall,
I people-watched a while longer then asked rhetorically ‘I wonder what we all would have been doing now if there were no mobile phones’ They all burst out laughing and stopped momentarily to look at the others seated around the table.

So I went on, ‘Hi, my name is Naomi, you are…’ I said to the lady across the table. And that was how conversation was ignited – Everyone introduced themselves, what they did or were looking to do, how they got to know the bride… bla bla. One or two people shared some hilarious memories of growing up with the bride; we laughed so hard some of us had tears on our eyelids.  By the time the bride arrived, we were so well acquainted a passerby would’ve thought we were having a family dinner.

Sadly, the story doesn’t end like this at most gatherings where our sense of ‘aloneness’ is heightened even though we are surrounded by people. This has become a pandemic of sorts. There’s such a widespread social awkwardness I see around these days that I sincerely wonder just how much technology is safe to consume. The most active and vocal social media users feel inadequate when interaction turns physical and will rather ping everyone in their network than have a conversation with a real person.

At the heart of this anti-social behaviour I think, is an unnecessary self-consciousness; a deficiency technology readily provides an escape for.  For some of us, myself inclusive, our smartphones and tablets are lifesavers in gatherings where we don’t know people. Instead of exercising our social muscles, we just tune out the rest of the world. We attend events but can’t give an honest account of what happened while we were there. We meet no one, miss the few we might have reconnected with if only our faces weren’t pressed to the screens of whatever device we use, and never experience the sheer joy of being in the presence of other human beings.

Technology isolates us in the same way it connects us and how much of the former or latter we experience depends on how we use it. A lot of us have become over dependent, addicted even; and only time will tell what the consequences of this over dependency will be.

As with everything in life there has to be balance. There’s stuff going on around you, places to go, new people to meet, new friendships to enjoy. You’ll never experience these if half the time your face is stuck on the screen of a smart device.

I think I should stop; this is actually beginning to read like a note-to-self :D

©Naomi Lucas


Anonymous said...

so true

Sisi Yemmie ™ said...

i agree!

Bola said...

well said o Naomi. well said.