Walking the streets of Manhattan a few weeks ago I observed something that was to some quite interesting and to others mundane. I often wonder what goes through the minds of people as they are walking to work, going in for their morning caffeine or even just wondering what the day will bring. People are quite unique and their facial expressions so intense that I wondered whether with the literally hundreds of people walking head to toe on the street if they even realized anyone else was even there. Everyone or just about everyone I guess except me since I was doing the observing and realized that with what is going on in the world it pays to stay aware and alert of your surroundings and people, were buried in their cell phones, making calls, texting or on their IPADS walking not never looking up even when crossing the street.
Couples walked together but apart you might say as they walked, texted and never spoke a word. With so many people on the street you would think the din or the noise would be loud, as people would be talking to each other. But, not one person paid attention to anyone and you could practically hear a feather drop. If not for the click of high heels or the bounding of heavy feet or leather you would never know anyone was out there.
Cell phones are great and they do help us to communicate but what about your morning conversation, or just talking with your friend or partner before starting your hectic day? Everyone looked so intense and so caught up in their texts its was hard to tell if they were even aware of their surroundings. Like automatons walking or even robots concentrating on a work text or friend’s text. What about a phone call? Very few were talking on their phones to anyone and even after disconnecting they needed to text more.
Birthdays were fun when you actually got a phone call to wish you Happy Birthday. Now, it’s a text. The Internet provides us with so much information that I wonder about the reference section of a library. Even calling to pay a premium for my health insurance required going through voice prompts and ridiculous announcements that waste time. Technology is great and the Internet is a valuable tool for research and finding information needed to write an article, a book or just to learn more about a particular topic, but give me a book anytime.
Family dinners required that cell phones and IPADS and video games be placed aside and everyone shared their day with their parents, brothers and sisters. Not anymore. Family dinners are now eating, texting, and playing games on their phones or handheld video games. You can’t blame kids because parents do the same when they gamble on line, pay bills on line, play video games of a different sort like fantasy football, or other online games that people play even for money.
The world has become quite technology oriented and yet we are not as advanced as many other countries, places or groups. I often wonder how some are able to hack into our servers, our phones and even our private lines. I am amazed at how some of these groups know our Intel and much more making it hard to keep ahead of them hoping that we can prevent something before it happens by doing the same.
I reviewed a book last week where the main character’s father was a telegrapher and he refused to have a phone put into his home in order to not always connect with everyone. Using Morse code seemed to make him happy and not connecting with everyone around the world or even his family seemed to be the norm not just for him but also for the people of this small town where the author grew up. I wonder what would happen if for one-hour everyday everyone stopped and talked. I wonder whether it would be more fun to talk to your partner on the way to work rather than focusing on your texts and answering. I wonder what would happen if there was noise on the street and you could not hear yourself think because everyone was talking. Focused on their surroundings and even paying attention to the people around them.
Entering an ER the first thing they do is search your name, birth date and check to see if they have your insurance on file before even asking you what is wrong. Scary when you just tell them your basic info and so much comes up on the screen. Hoping that they have some of your medical file there so that you don’t have to answer the same questions over again might seem better than starting from the beginning. But, if you are lucky and that is not always the case, they restart you file again, ask some basic questions and hopefully get to the bottom of what is wrong with you. Everything depends on a computer. No one has notepads to write on, no one writes in a file or folder anymore and when systems go down and let’s hope they don’t I wonder if there is a backup. We have become numbers, account numbers, social security numbers and sometimes they remember to call us by our last name even when we tell them my name is Fran not madam or mam. So impersonal. I guess they have so many people they really can’t stop and listen and care about everything you say.
Technology is great and it does help cut corners in many ways but walking the streets of Manhattan, putting my cell in my bag, watching the people walk or just taking in the sites, the landmarks and more: Much more fun and definitely the only way to appreciate the amazing world we live in. Of course holding my husband’s hand and walking together talking makes all the difference in the world.
An educator and book reviewer, Fran Lewis is also the founding editor of M.J. Magazine and the author of books for adults and children. Her opus includes both fiction and nonfiction, the latter reflecting her concern for those suffering from Alzheimer’s, both the patients and the caregivers. You can find her work on Amazon and her voice BlogTalk Radio.