In this day and age folks usually have their faces buried in some sort of electronic device, going from one file, one game, one tweet to another, never taking the time to look up and absorb what is going on around them.
I’m guessing you could commit a major crime in a crowded place and if all these people with their devices didn’t actually take a picture of it, no one would be able to give authorities an actual description of what took place.
Just this week, within the span of about ten minutes, I was reminded of how insular people have become, in two separate situations. In the first one, I got into the elevator at my office on the ground floor and pushed the button to go to the 7th Floor. Just before the doors closed, a guy, whose face was fixated on his Smart Phone walks into the elevator and looks up long enough to press the button for the 6th Floor.
The doors close, the elevator rises and a recorded voice, in two official languages, announces that we have indeed reached the 6th Floor. But our young friend, who probably still hadn’t noticed that I was in the elevator, is just standing there in front of the open doors. It was only as the doors closed in on him that he looked up long enough to realize that his floor had now come and gone. We then rode up one floor to mine. As I got out I turned to him and said, “Gee, I guess you missed your floor. Too bad there isn’t an app for that!”
What could be so important during the less than 30 second trip that one hasn’t even noticed that the elevator has stopped on their floor? Has their Smart Phone rendered their senses numb? Can they not hear the ding of the elevator or the recorded voice? Does their peripheral vision not pick up the added light of the open elevator doors? Hasn’t their personal motion sensor let them know that the elevator is no longer moving? Does their Smart Phone contain nuclear launch codes?
I know I could have probably been a little more helpful and gently reminded him that he was at his floor, but for all I know that could have probably scared the dear boy into a coronary.
The second incident came as I was walking toward our office doors. I ran my pass card across the sensor to get in, just as I noticed a colleague coming the other way. He too had his face buried in an electronic device, thumbs all a flutter, as he walked like an unmanned drone towards the now open portal. With my hand holding the open door, I stood back and actually watched him bounce off the door frame trying to get through. Would he have not even tried to open the door if I wasn’t holding it? How do people navigate around like this on a daily basis?
And a few days later I noticed that Twitter was down. When it came back, there was a story that crossed the wires saying the service was out for five minutes; a whole 300 seconds. The plethora of Facebook comments during that time and for the half hour after Twitter was back up were written with the urgency of a person who had just witnessed a puppy locked in a hot car.
And speaking of cars, at the beginning of the summer, I was stopped at a traffic light. I was at the corner, but not in the pedestrian lane, yet a young woman, basking in the glow of her Blackberry, crossed in front of me and actually bounced off my hood because she wasn’t looking at where she was going. But she did manage to pull herself away from the screen long enough to give me a dirty look because I had the audacity to sit at an intersection in a stationary vehicle and didn’t back up into the car behind me so that she could cross the street by rote! Horses with blinders see more than these people do.
I’m beginning to understand how the Israelites felt, following Moses around the desert for 40 years. He probably spent too much time staring at the tablets to pay attention to where he was going.
There was a common phrase older folks would use, but I never had any time for; “Stop and smell the roses.” Nowadays, nobody even notices the roses, unless it’s a YouTube video showing the flower bloom in time lapse photography.
That’s the Stuph – the way I see it