Instant Gratification

Technology has given us opportunities to communicate in ways we could never have imagined. We can achieve instant gratification by using our cell phone in a variety of ways, wether it be by voice, text or FaceTime. You can show someone where you are and what you’re doing at a moments notice. The ways to communicate keep evolving and the time it takes to connect is getting shorter and shorter. I’m sure we will eventually have the ability to access one another through holograms. It feels like we are fast becoming the actors in a science picture film.

My fear is that the ability to communicate faster and faster is also removing the ability to spend actual time with each other. I now receive a myriad of text messages that were once part of a phone call. Are we so busy that picking up the phone is akin to the President being told we are about to be invaded by aliens? Most of us have accommodated ourselves to the new ways to get in touch, but have we thought about what we have given up as a result? The human voice has the ability to impart so many emotions. No amount of smiley faces, little hearts or any other symbols can do that!

This is not a diatribe against progress, but rather the hope that we can find some balance between the new and the old ways of communicating. The holidays are upon us. Christmas is this Thursday and many people will gather to celebrate. Will the cell phones be turned off during dinner unless a friend or family member that couldn’t attend will be calling? If there are kids at the gathering will they be interacting with the adults or will they be texting their friends to gab about what their experiencing? How about the television? Will it be turned off?

Being without the gadgets for the day may allow you to embrace the possibilities of having discussions with individuals in a more meaningful level. Texting makes communication feel like shorthand. I also know that there are some relatives that I would like to simply text even if they were sitting next to me. But if it’s one thing I’ve discovered it’s that I have learned a lot of tolerance and patience talking to someone that made me feel like watching a faucet drip would be more fun. In fact some of the most boring or difficult people I have had to deal with have ended up being characters in some of the books I’ve written.

Perhaps this holiday you can go back in time and simply revisit old fashioned ways of communicating. Listen, respond, be empathic, and see what you might learn. And more importantly give your phone a rest! Happy Holidays!

When your life is centered on getting and receiving messages from a gadget, the world around you disappears.

A new study suggests “distracted walking” is taking a toll on teenagers as the number of pedestrian injuries soars among 16 to 19 year olds.

Safe Kids Worldwide, a not-for-profit organization based in Washington stated that, “We have distracted drivers who may be hitting pedestrians in the street, but we also have distracted pedestrians who are walking in front of cars.”

Once again, I am astounded that money is being spent to research the obvious. Money that could go toward trying to discover antidotes for cancer, Alzheimer’s or a number of other diseases that afflict humankind. The article containing the above information also stated that there was a direct link between kids’ cell phone use and pedestrian death rates for teens. Gee, what an epiphany! I was thinking that maybe I could manicure my nails, drink my coffee and read a book while crossing a major highway.

The number of studies done that are simply repeats of what I heard from my grandmother and mother is astounding. I was given daily admonitions about not doing “two things at once” or “watch where you’re going, you’ll fall down.”

How did we get to the place where common sense is so absent from most people’s lives? Can we be so oblivious to our own mortality that we believe we can text, talk on cell phones, eat or drink while driving or walking? Have we become so hypnotized by gadgets that where we are or who we are with is less important than being connected to someone who is not present?

Believe me I am not against technology. What drives me nuts is that people seem to be less and less able to monitor themselves. We have to have research and get outcomes so that we can create slogans and laws to help individuals who seem to live in their own little world. And whether they believe it or not, their world is shrinking. When your life is centered on getting and receiving messages from a gadget, the world around you disappears.

Will the millions of dollars spent on billboards, signs on highways and media advertisements that say “Don’t text and drive” and the like get through to individuals who are essentially hypnotized? I think not. What we really need is more emphasis on accountability and responsibility for our behavior and I believe that message is part of what we should be learning at home.

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