When the older kids were very young, my mom bought them a Richard Scarry video that had a song called Stop, Look and Listen. From the best I can remember, it was a song about street safety.
Over the last couple of days, I have had the chorus of the song swirling around in my head - but not in regards to street safety. This song has been going round and round in my head because of the high tech world that we live in. The words are something like this...
Stop, look and listen
You don't know what you're missing
Be smart and start to
Stop, look and listen
(I am sure I've completely just butchered the lyrics.)
Now before I go any further with this post, I need to come clean. I am VERY bad at returning phone calls, hence the answering machine message stating 'leave a message and maybe we'll call you back'. I am horrible at responding to emails. I like to read them (most of the time) and then take my time responding. I use to be really good at the hand written letter, but that too has gone out the door in the last few years. All of these bad traits are just part of who I am these days. Then add on top of it the fact that I am very pregnant and I've somehow managed to cut off communication even more. And for the remainder of the disclaimer, you should know that I have this blog, a MySpace page, a Facebook page and a Yahoo email account. Most all of these things were started because I wanted to know what people were talking about and stay educated.
But lately, I have been very frustrated. And the frustration is growing every single day. I am tired of our 'wired' world. I want to yell out the window for people to hang up the phone. I want to tell the person that is texting at the table to put the phone down. I want to yell at the people at the park to close the laptop and play. Or don't play, but watch. I am tired of laptops, cell phones and every other form of high tech communication.
Sure, I like to check my email on JC's Blackberry. It is neat and fun. And when I had a cell phone, I really enjoyed sending text messages to my friends or funny pictures of our kids at the dentist to my husband. But now being someone on the outside of the high tech loop, I can see that it is controlling everyone. Here are a few examples...
1. Teenager in the movie theatre texting during the whole movie.
2. 2 adults 4 kids sitting at a table next to us in IHOP. All four kids texting and dad talking on the phone. AT THE TABLE.
3. Astros vs. Cubs most of the people sitting in front of us were on the phone or texting the whole time.
4. Many different kids ages 10-12 over to play with our kids walking around with phones and texting with other kids while they should be out playing.
5. Friends using laptops at the park while their kids are off playing. (Now don't get me wrong, I don't always play with my kids at the park - but I have spent MANY hours engaging in adult conversation with the other moms while the kids were off playing.)
6. Adults on IPhone, Blackberry, laptop while at their child's sporting event or school performance.
And the list goes on and on and on.
And I wonder why we don't engage with each other anymore?
What could possibly be so important that you NEED to take the call and you are willing to be rude to the people at your own table, or the server or the others in the same restaurant by talking on your phone? Are you waiting for a heart transplant and got the call???? Is it Ed McMahon calling to say that you won the sweepstakes??
And don't even get me started on the computer and the social networking pages. I have been having a VERY difficult time understanding how my real life friends can spend hours and hours and hours a day posting and chatting and communicating with people in cyberspace. I understand wanting to stay connected. I understand what a useful tool these sites can be in the quest to reconnect with old friends. I cannot understand the time and the energy spent on wall writing, flower growing, friend requesting and the general things that come with the social sites. I get that these things can be fun, but they can also take over your life.
Is it so hard for us to pick up the phone and actually make a human connection with the people that we truly want to talk to? I understand that it is nice to say hello and touch base with someone you went to kindergarten with - and at the same time, where do we draw the line with these cyber relationships? I find myself surrounded by people that have built cyber-relationships with people that they actually know in real life and with people that they have never met but enjoy 'talking' to through the computer.
I am not sure how to balance these relationships out in my own life. With the people that I know and love I sometimes feel a bit frustrated and irritated by the amount of time they spend on the computer and 'talking' to people that they would never normally have a relationship with if it wasn't for the computer sitting in front of them. Hello??? When was the last time you actually picked up the phone and called someone that you really know and love and care for?????
And with the people that I just like to lurk around their blog pages and check out the pictures on their social sites, I sometimes have a hard time knowing that they aren't people in my real life - they are not walking and breathing right in front of my face - do they really NEED this much attention on a daily basis? I feel like most of the time, I am able to know when to quit and to turn the computer off. Stopping the cell service was the first big step to trying to completely engage my own family. Ignoring the computer and seriously limiting all computer time in our home has been another huge accomplishment.
I guess there is nothing that I can do about this wired world that we live in. JC and I can make sure that we are acknowledging the humans in our lives before the screens. I can make sure that the kids know how important it is to stop, look and listen to the PEOPLE and the WORLD around them - and not the plastic glowing boxes.
As far as my cyber loving friends...well, I can stop trying to understand why this is so consuming for some and go back to my normal curiosities. I am sure whatever the next techno-fad is, I'll figure out how to manage it. I just know that I need to keep both feet planted firmly on the ground and both eyes firmly on the living breathing walking people and NOT the glowing box.
I am making an effort to Stop, Look and Listen.
Ugh. That's my rant for tonite. Hope I didn't piss anyone off.