Anyone who knows me understands that I love technology. The number of computers, smartphones, gaming systems and similar devices in my home, outnumbers the people by about five to one, possibly more. So, when I say that as a society we've become too dependent on technology, it might seem a bit hypocritical.
While it is true that I have an overabundance of electronic devices and it provides my family and I with our primary pastime, we are not slaves to it. I and other members of my family frequent the gym, have plenty of outside interests, including memberships to volunteer groups, community groups and a large number of friends. We camp, walk, take frequent day trips and visit with plenty of friends.
Barbequing is our favourite outdoor activity; sitting on our deck and enjoying the company our friends or just hanging out alone. When we do get together with friends, our phones are nowhere in sight. In fact, my phone frequently loses charge and it will be a day or two before I remember to do so. We haven't forgotten the lost art of playing cards and socializing. We remember how to interact with others. Sadly, our modernized society is losing touch with each other, the more connected we become.
Regardless of whether or not you belong to a traditional family unit, spending time together and helping our children to develop into adults with strong interpersonal skills is the responsibility of every parent. That means, that we should look forward to interacting with them and take advantage of every chance we get to do so. Sadly, Facebook, Twitter and texting have gotten in the way of that.
While driving to work everyday I see dozens of people walking along the sidewalks, or even along country roads, with their faces buried in their smartphones. The sun could be shining, the weather warm and inviting, but they will be oblivious to anything but their artificial human interactions through social medium. They look ridiculous and the statement it makes about us as a society is disturbing. It's no wonder we laugh at videos of people who walk into poles and fall into fountains while doing so.
Today is a warm, sunny Saturday in May and what I saw on my drive to work really struck me. I saw more than one family waiting at bus stops. One was a mother with a young boy, about 13 years old. The other was a young mother, with a son, probably about 9 or 10 years of age. In both cases, the boys stood apart from their parents, staring out into space, obviously bored, while the parents, all of them, had their faces buried in smartphones. I shook my head in silence. In one case we had a couple, who couldn't be bothered communicating with each other, let alone the child they had with them. In the other, a young mother who was alone with her child on this particular occasion and not a single one of them was interacting with each other. Is social media really that fascinating? No, it's not.
Granted, there are times when children and adults need to be alone, but when you're as oblivious to the outside world as we so many of these people everyday, are we really just seeing the one-offs, or is it a statement about where we're heading as a society? Yes, many parents are using their devices to work from home specifically so that they can spend more time with their families and those people have the right idea. How many of those people though, do you think we're really seeing in restaurants and at bus stops, completely ignoring their children for long periods at a time?
People need to find balance in everything they do. Spend time together when you have it, because time is precious. Build and maintain those relationships in person lest we forget how to do so. See the value in personal interaction and stop losing yourself in the 140 character status updates of the people who don't impact your life as much as those you've chosen to spend your life with. Put down the phones.
I'm stepping off my soap box, now.