Greetings, SE’ers! Beem Weeks here with you again. Since today (March 4) is National Day of Unplugging, I’ve decided to share my thoughts on the prevalence of technology in everyday life.
They are everywhere. In restaurants, bars, movie theaters, and banks. They can be found wandering the streets of big cities and small villages alike. I’m talking about the walking dead. No, I don’t mean flesh-eating zombies in search of a slow-moving meal. I’m talking about technology junkies. You know the ones, those brain-addled folks who cannot function more than a few minutes without looking at the electronic device that’s literally stealing away their time.
We’ve all seen the videos on the internet, the ones showing those clueless clowns who plunge into water fountains inside some shopping mall because they can’t bear to look away from the smartphone long enough to save themselves from disaster.
Just sit inside of a restaurant—any restaurant in any city in any country—and watch all the sagging, drooping heads. These brain-dead techno-zombies won’t even bother to socialize with their lunch or dinner companions. They just can’t spare the thirty minutes or so for simple human to human interaction. Their smartphone just won’t allow it.
This is the new society in which we live. This is the curse technology has gifted humanity. How many lives have been lost due to smart phones? I’ve witnessed people texting, surfing the internet, or checking email while at the helm of fast-moving vehicles. I once witnessed a driver cruise mindlessly through an intersection before T-boning an unsuspecting motorist who had the misfortune of passing through that same intersection at the wrong moment in time. The guilty party was texting or checking messages. The rest of us were stopped at the red light. You’re not likely to notice a thing like a stop light when a smart device holds your attention.
Technology doesn’t discriminate, either. It steals time and attention from young and old alike. I recall an incident during a trip to a local burger joint a few years ago. A woman and her young granddaughter were having lunch. They were seated at the next table. For most of their thirty-minute visit the girl—no more than five years old—pleaded for Grandma’s attention. She eventually gave up, realizing the futility in her effort. Granny just couldn’t be bothered. Whatever her smartphone offered far exceeded anything the little girl could manage.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against technology. Computers, smartphones, and the internet have been amazing tools—especially for writers and other creative sorts. It’s something of a miracle to be able to write a short article like this, and have it read by people all over the world with just a few keystrokes. We promote our books and short stories to readers across the globe from the familiar comfort of our homes. But look at what’s been replaced by this technology. Social interaction is now mostly carried out over Facebook or Instagram or texting or on any one of a dozen other social media sites. Attention spans have been dramatically shortened, reduced to a minimum—a fact to which I can personally attest.
So, on this day of unplugging and recharging, consider making it a weekly habit rather than once a year. Pick one day per week (or even a couple) and unplug from computers and phones and the bustle of the internet. Rejoin the world of living, breathing human beings and rediscover what’s been missing from your life.