Thursday, January 26, 2012

An Obsession with our Hands

And being on a roll, I may as well finish my ‘new fangled gadget’ rant. I’ve got another bone to pick.

The relationship that people are developing with their own hand is somewhat disturbing.

Look around any public place … or even the street. An amazing number of people, certainly the ones under 40, are staring at their hands.  I’m sure you’ve seen this – a half dozen people sitting in a row at an airport, every single one of them intent on connecting with anyone but the person sitting beside them. It’s bizarre. And frankly, it’s a little bit sad.

A surprising number of people have become so tied – or so addicted – that they cannot go a few hours without checking to see …… what, I’m not sure.  I guess that someone is sending them earth shattering news that can’t wait until they’re alone.  Whatever did we do before every person with a cell phone had access to each other at every single moment.  Whatever did we do when we actually had to be with the people we were with?

It is the ‘not being present’ that gets my goat.  I see it happening more and more. The rudeness is becoming the norm.  I have had people sit at my own dinner table with their eyes glued to their hands, searching for a conversation that is apparently more interesting that what the in the flesh people are offering. You would never think of going and turning your computer on in the midst of a conversation.

I have been at meetings where people are engaged with their devices rather than focusing on the business at hand, when it’s only going to be an hour and their precious message will be safely and patiently waiting for them anyway.  It is not a matter of multi-tasking. It’s a matter of priorities, of blatantly saying "these other people - my OWN world and concerns are far more important than being with you right now."

I was at a conference last year with an excellent International keynote speaker who had an incredible amount of wisdom and knowledge to share. It would have cost a fortune to bring him half way around the world.  It was such a great opportunity that high school students were bussed in to hear him.  The teacher sat in front of me. She spent the entire time of the presentation on her Blackberry – checking her email, texting people. It was rude to the speaker and distracting to people around her. Besides being a poor example for her students, I wondered how she would lead a discussion back in the classroom.

I really, really hope that we soon get over the novelty of it all and settle down to being where we are, when we and treasuring the time with who we’re with in real time/real life.

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