“Cell phones only inhibit everyone’s social skills.” “Smart phones are making everyone imbeciles.” And my favorite: “Kids today can’t talk to anyone face-to-face, they can’t write in whole words and there is no use expecting them to have respect for anyone.”
Now, I think these are some pretty harsh statements, but I have heard them all within the past two or three weeks, and from different people. I agree there has been a profound impact on society since the cell phone, bur really, since the smart phone and social networking. I see some huge advantages of social networking, and yes I will be posting this to Facebook when I its complete! There have been days that my only interaction with others has been through Facebook, not by choice but by circumstance. And I have met some very nice people through Facebook, that I would never have met in any other way. Of course, you can feel it coming, there is a downside. Like getting together with friends and the entire evening one of them is on Facebook “chatting.” It is curious to me…why would someone go out with friends, only to not interact with them? Why does someone pretend to be interacting with the person(s) they are with, when in actuality, they are “with” their social network on Facebook? Or, for that matter, why does someone text others, surf the net or play games when in a social situation? When this happens to me, it screams “You are boring me, but I feel I have to be with you, so I am going to ignore you and do something else.”
Maybe this is just because I grew up without these devices, although I am pretty much into all the latest gadgets. I had a cell phone as soon as they came out, in a reasonable size, in the early 1990’s. I cannot tell you how many I have had since then, but I know I’ve had at least three iPhones. I am on my second iPad, my third Kindle, etc. I say this only to let you, the reader, know that I may not have grown up with “gadgets” but I have fully embraced them! I feel lost if I leave my cell phone at home. I’ve always put it on the table next to me so I would be sure to see it. I’ve texted people while playing cards and, yes, I have gone on Facebook just to “see what’s happening.” And for all those times, I am sorry. I never meant to say that I was bored or that you were not important. I realize now how it must have felt. From now on, when I am with friends, I will leave it in my pocket. I will ignore it when it rings, text or call. I know what it feels like when someone your with takes a call or answers a text…”this is more important that you…”
I have found myself taking my iPad, iPhone and whatever other “i’s” I can find with me to places I know I need them. Places where I know, or at least history has taught me, that this will be the activity at some point. I hate being the “if you can’t beat them join them” type…I’ve always been the “rebel,” and I am much more comfortable with that role. But sometimes, you know you are beat. After all, I looked up one afternoon when I didn’t have my electronic companions, and everyone in the room was engrossed in their iPad or Kindle. After an hour or so of just watching them, I chose to go home. It was only Christmas after all…a time for family and fellowship. I’m guessing that has become something we do electronically now?