People are so anti-social, they say. They’re always on their phones, they say. There’s no social interaction, they say. The claims go on that children are never outside… never at the park. They’re glued to their tablets. And I just listen and laugh.
First off, people have always been anti-social. This isn’t anything new. Before portable electronics, people read books and newspapers (as you can see from the picture) or simply looked out the window or pretended to sleep. All technology did was make it a lot easier. No more holding out pages of your newspaper and awkwardly trying to flip and fold them. No more trying to keep track of stops with your eyes closed.
Second off, I’m outside on a regular basis and I can tell you where the kids are. They’re riding bikes, going to the park, and hanging out in little groups trying to look cool (as it it’s ever been cool to stand on dead grass by a sewer grate at the edge of the park). And as covid restrictions relax, more and more of them are on sports teams, horseback riding, taking swimming lessons, and doing gymnastics. None of which require electronics of any sort. And third, electronics like phones and tablets are tools. My bank has no brick and mortar locations so I use my phone and computer for all my banking. Much of my life is organized through email, which I view, again, through my phone and computer. I listen to music with both of them as well and video chat with Colin on my phone and tablet. I was reading books on my phone but have switched over to my tablet because it’s annoying having the phone ring in the middle of a page. I use my tablet for multiple groups and classes throughout the week. And my favourite decorating game is on the phone and I use it to destress. I use the map function when I’m out with my parents, I use the camera on a daily basis. My phone gets used as an alarm clock, a calculator, a dictionary, and an encyclopedia and I could still go on with more functions. Why would I tuck all that away when I use many of those features regularly? Besides, it’s hard to take a cute bunny photo when my phone’s two floors up in a locked apartment.
Same goes with Facebook. I have close family on there plus extended family. I get to see garden shots and sunsets. Last week I got to see my uncle and aunt’s dog fetch them the morning paper and then deliver the paper to their neighbour. They live on the other side of the world in Australia. How on earth would I have seen that without Facebook? Email has size restrictions and it’s not like they can snail mail a video. I mentioned video chatting with Colin, that’s through Facebook video chat. I also use that to sing karaoke with friends. We used to sing in person but covid happened. I chat with friends in different countries via messenger and talk with people who have similar interests in groups. Where else could I find an LGBTQIA2S Doctor Who group? I’ve watched, through pictures, friends’ children grow from toddlers into teens getting their driver’s licenses. I’ve seen friends marry, divorce, and remarry. I’ve watched two friends raise their families only to start all over again with new little ones (I’m pretty sure my uterus just tried to jump out the window and run into oncoming traffic at that thought). It is a platform to connect with people around the globe.
They talk about people staring passive and mindlessly at the screen, as if both the screen and their minds were equally blank. Do these people not own devices? Trust me, I’m not staring mindlessly at my bank account. I might be a tad baffled but my mind’s not blank. Same as when I’m checking my phone bill or going through my email. And even if someone is passively watching a show on their phone or tablet, so what? I bet 99% of the complainers think nothing of settling down in front of the tv. That’s not exactly active entertainment. Those laugh tracks shudders.
I don’t mind if someone wants to step away from their phone, computer, tablet, or Facebook for a while. I just wish people would be honest. If you’re having problems texting all the time, even at social events, sticking the phone away is a good idea. Same as if you can’t stop online gambling. If you find yourself refreshing Facebook’s news feed just one more time… at 3am (again) or dinner’s been pushed from five to seven because you can’t stop commenting on posts then hibernating or closing your account is great. But don’t blame everyone else. What does it matter if “society’s addicted to social media” if you only go on it for 15 minutes a day? Does it matter if you think everyone’s “staring mindlessly at their phones” if you only use it for making phone calls and taking the occasional picture? Don’t claim to be an individual yet make your decisions based off what you think others are doing.
And I’m going to listen to YouTube on my phone until I finish my chores then play my favourite phone game. And on Tuesday I’m going to Bon Echo Provincial Park with my parents for a family day and you can be sure my camera (with it’s trusty camera) is going to be there too. Technology is here whether we like it or not. We need to find ways to fit it into our lives instead of hiding from it.