I went out to eat a few nights ago. Sat down with three friends, in a fairly decent restaurant near my home in San Jose CA. We began chatting, as most mature people would at a table for four adorned with napkins, silverware and exquisite menus, and then I looked right. There, right in front of my eyes was a scene that I can only describe as very 2015 ish! Sad in some ways, shocking in others. All in all, it just summed up what we, as society, have become. Two adults, one on an iPhone, one on a Galaxy S5, and two kids, both on iPads, all texting, playing games or doing whatever one does on these devices, NONE talking to anyone at the table. A family, obviously out to enjoy a very nice dinner, communicating only with the plastic electronic device sitting in front of their faces, and not with one another. This scene just begged for a blog, it poured out the sadness in what I believe we should call ‘reverse’ evolution, and it just smacked of what we have now done to family life as a whole.
I recall two years or so ago, my daughter was in her room and she texted me to let me know she was ready to eat. Her room was less than 20 feet from where I was standing cooking her lunch, and yet she couldn’t be bothered to open the door and speak to me face to face, she had to text. It was that very day that I recall thinking, “we have a serious problem here”, and frankly, I have been proven correct in the worst way possible. After eating and watching the family I mentioned earlier, I needed to go to the Apple store to pick up an adaptor for my computer. Walking in, the next day, which was Easter Sunday, I was confronted by a bank of kids, all lined up at the mahogany tables Apple stores use to display all their goodies, hands on any iPad, iPhone or Mac they could find, battling one another for screen supremacy while their adult parents either perused the store or sought out tuition on how to eventually beat their kids at the very same games in which they were now fully engrossed. Once again, I was flabbergasted. Bring the kids to a store, dump them and let them sit all afternoon, hours upon hours of wasted time playing meaningless games while the sun was out and crying for baseball, soccer or any other sport to be played in clean fresh air instead of sitting in that musty crowded atmosphere the Apple store provided.
You’ll see in the pictures an older lady and two kids. I asked her, after taking that shot, what she thought of the situation where she had the kids in the store playing games and not outside where we all used to enjoy our fresh air and physical activity. She also gave me permission to publish the picture along with her comments. It turned out she was their grandmother, even though she looked so young when I talked to her up close and personal. She was embarrassed. I explained what Id’ seen in the restaurant the day before and she whole heartedly agreed with me that we, as society, have become lazy and completely self-dependent on ridiculous devices that have taken away all need for conversation or intimate communication. She even admitted that she rarely called anyone on her phone anymore, preferring the art of texting to that of speech. Pathetic, I told her, and she agreed.
And then there were the two little boys, abandoned by mum and dad, who ironically it turned out, were next door eating in a restaurant while to boys played games for free in the Apple store. Just another indictment on how pathetic we have become. Imagine 20 years ago leaving your kids in a separate store while you went to eat? You would have been jailed for child abuse not applauded for ingenuity! According to the staff inside that store, these two boys had been there over an hour and this had not been the first time their parents had left them there! It seemed to be a regular occurrence, both kids being well-known to the employees that patrolled the aisles filled with those magical devices.
What have we done? That’s the question? We’ve filled our lives with buttons, gadgets, and useless information. We have overloaded not only our memory sticks, but our desire for the latest greatest device we can find that will eventually cut us off from the rest of the normal world. When I go to Hong Kong or to China, to the UK or any other country in Europe, to Australia and beyond, I see nothing but tens of millions of adults and children walking the streets, devices pointed out front of their texting bodies, caring little for the throngs walking in front of them. They bump, the dodge and they swerve from out to in and in to out, just incase they miss a character on the meaningless text conversations they are having with their friends. This needs to stop, but it won’t! People need to revert to calling and not texting, but they won’t. The art of writing is gone, and that’s sad. The art of conversation has been condemned to the annuls of the now extinct 20th century, a mere fifteen years in the past. What lies in our future? A dumb, mind numbing populous who talk live to no one and can type at 200 words per minute. And one needs to ask oneself, where will it all end? Probably in an Apple store, where Barak Obama will be playing a video game of nuclear destruction with Putin, a game where no one will win and no one will die, but again, no one will ever know because no one will ever discuss it in person!