When Did We Become So Disconnected?

We are addicted to our cell phones.

Advancements in technology have given us cell phones which provide us access to the world at our fingertips 24/7. This has obviously provided us with many benefits. But constantly being connected to the world has resulted in us being disconnected in our present surroundings.

While I have known this to be a problem for some time, my eyes really opened up to it a few weeks ago. I was at the park with my sister, my 4 year old niece, and my sister’s friends and children. One of the little girls would periodically come to her mom to watch something on the phone. I couldn’t understand. Did this child need to be entertained by technology when at the park with friends?? Is that not entertainment enough?? Meanwhile one of the other moms spent a while on Facebook. I just don’t get it. We have lost the ability to truly be present and interact with one another. Whatever happened to conversation, interaction, and play with one another?

This isn’t just another millennial problem either.

I was at a class for my job on Friday and almost everyone was on his/ her cell phone while waiting for class to start. During the class, the instructors had to make a comment more than once for people to not text during class. What did people do after that? Put the cell phone on their lap or behind the page in the book and continue to text…. like no one knew what they were doing. As soon as a break came almost everyone grabbed their phones to instantly regain the connection to whatever was missed in only 2 hours time.

Look around when you are at a red light in traffic. Many people will be looking down at a cell phone. We have become so accustomed to reaching for a cell phone with any amount of down time such as waiting in line, waiting for transportation, waiting for someone to arrive, etc. that any quiet time just feels awkward. We don’t know how to interact with strangers… and this is coming from someone who is a huge introvert and hates interaction! How are we supposed to meet new people if we are constantly looking and interacting with our cell phones and not the world around us?

The problem is it has gotten to the point where are always escaping into our phones even when in the presence of others. Even when out to eat with friends, people leave the phone on the table to instantly know when a new text, or something else, arrives. How many times do you see people in conversation while texting and just saying “uh huh?” Yeah that person is in text land and heard nothing that was said.

I work as a physical therapist in a hospital and I see many employees texting while in the middle of patient care. What does that say to the patient? You certainly aren’t paying attention to him/ her. The text message is more important. And people don’t just do this when distant from the patient.. I see this while people are sitting right next to the patient.

I love my cell phone as much as the next person but as of recently I have worked on distancing myself, especially when I am around others. I have felt better doing this and less like I am waiting to be stimulated/ entertained by something on my phone. It does worry me that children are getting this addiction at such a young age as well. We didn’t have this as children and we already have it bad. It is only going to get worse. Children will not know how to interact with others at school or even pay attention in a classroom.  How is this going to change our next generation?

And yes, I am well aware there are times where people have to pick up or answer someone. In cases where the person is a doctor on call, or getting a call/ text from or about family/ children, or an urgent call one has been waiting to hear a response for. In that case it is easy to excuse yourself and handle your business. I am sure these scenarios are not what is happening with the majority of people, however.

I would like to encourage people to try putting the phone away for a little bit. Enjoy the world around you. Whatever is happening elsewhere can usually wait.

Danielle E.

 

 

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