In a Zenny mindfulness class I’m taking, a woman explained the mantra she asks herself whenever she senses her brain wandering cluelessly:
“Am I present?”
Most people anymore might prefer to ask themselves,
“Am I connected?”
Whatever happened to watching waves? Or a simple sporting event, for that matter? When did it become virtually de rigueur to be playing with your device(s) while chatting, studying, walking, eating, and (yes) pooping?
Last Sunday, I found myself slapping my forehead in shock and awe as this mass addiction played out. Here are just 5.5 of those scenes.
- Basketball refs on break. During halftime, two refs strutted to their chairs to rest—and picked up their cell phones and started tapping even before grabbing their Gatorade.
- Sidetracked driver. I was driving at 40 mph, and a car languidly pulled out of a coffee shop parking lot right in front of me. She didn’t see me, didn’t signal, and motored ahead way too slowly—only to swerve off on a freeway entrance ramp while executing a horrendous merge. When I passed her, there she was, blithely chatting on her cell phone and gesturing away. Dangerously not present.
- Three at a time. I watched some young girls having a playdate. Teddy bears? American Girl? Barbie? Sometimes, we hope. But Babs has some pretty tough competition when the girls are watching TV— and simultaneously playing on an iPad and a handheld device.
- Preoccupied coach. Picture a soccer tournament with 10-year-old girls playing hard on a wet, windy day. Impressive stuff, except for their coach, who got at least six phone calls during the game—and took turns yelling at her team and into her iPhone.
- Sunday supper. When entering a restaurant, I noticed a family sitting at a table waiting for their food. In the old days, this might have been a chance to catch up, plan summer, or just yuck it up. In these new days, the gathering instead offered a fine chance to … stare solo at mobile phone screens and occasionally click them.
- Yes, pooping. Back at that basketball tournament, the one men’s bathroom stayed busy. I ducked in to pee. But all the urinals were occupied. So I proceeded to the toilet stalls, opened two doors, and on both sat roundballers texting away while taking care of business. (I don’t know why they left the doors unlocked.)
May you live in techy times, my friends, and find much productivity, creativity, and connectivity with your tools and toys.
May you also remember to set them down now and than and ask yourself, “Am I present?”