I freely admit that I’m a bit of an anachronism, i.e. “old fart.” I can boast only 15 Facebook “friends; I habitually leave my iPhone at home; and I don’t “tweet” (is that what it’s called?). My family, friends, and acquaintances might choose to describe me using somewhat less flattering terms, but for the moment let’s just go with that – an “anachronism,” okay?
Oh, it’s not so much that I yearn to quest as a knight chivalrous or roam the Rockies of the early 1800s … I’m much too much a fan of indoor plumbing and air conditioning for that; but is it so far from “normal” that I pine for the days when people were mannered and courteous to one another?
I have the fortune to live in a very small (e.g. ~14,302 souls … and probably a few more without said soul) town with 360-degree views of the Uinta mountains. My Bride of 28+ years and I moved here from another small town some two years ago (the exact time span is still fuzzy due to the speed with which we moved … something or other about new grandbabies), although it was twice the size of the one wherein we currently reside.
Even in the short time we’ve lived here, we’ve begun to run into people that we know at the grocery store, Wal-Mart, and restaurants (the latter of which we’re sadly bereft, sigh). Folks might not know my name, but they recognize me every now and again as “the gun guy” (I often work the gun counter at a local outdoor sports store). With such a small demographic, excusing the mobs of tourists and hunters/fishermen/campers that descend upon us every weekend, one would think our tiny town would be more respectful of their fellow humans than those “darned city folks” from down the valley.
Case in point: Standing in line the other day at the family-owned store, the smaller of our two groceries, I was amused at the animated conversation a customer was having with one of the cashiers. I was given the impression they were well-known to one another, each catching up with news of kids and grandkids. In the middle of their conversation the customer’s cell phone rang and she stopped, literally in the middle of a sentence, to answer and begin another equally animated conversation with her caller! After a moment, the nonplussed cashier turned back to her register and finished her customer’s check-out, with the exception of payment … she had to wait until her customer completed her telephone conversation first. My amusement quickly turned to incredulity.
Hell, I’ve learned to not even try to have a conversation with anyone holding a cell phone. I figure it’s a 98% or better probability that s/he will receive a call/text/FB post or whatever and interrupt our conversation to instead respond to that caller/texter/poster far, far way. I’ve not so many breaths left to me in this life that I’m okay with wasting them while trying to hold someone’s attention. After all, it’s not like I actually care about another’s opinions so much that I wish to talk to him/her in first place … right?
When did we as a society stop being courteous and polite to others? When did a telephone call or a text become more important than a face-to-face conversation? What frightens us so?
I blame Steve Jobs (iPhone creator), Mark Zuckerberg (architect of Facebook), and the Twitter quadrumvirate of John Dorsey, Evan Williams, Biz Stone, and Noah Glass.
Let’s face it … the technology provided via the aforementioned messrs have done nothing to “improve” our lives; social media isn’t “social,” quite the opposite as it in practice allows us to dodge the basic requirements of a face-to-face personal relationship, no matter how fleeting. Saying some things on Facebook to an individual would quickly and assuredly earn a punch to the nose if said in person.
We have enslaved ourselves to our smartphones. For cryin’ out loud, people have walked off a cliff while texting! Rather than subject ourselves to the courtesy of a live conversation, we instead choose to text … and then explode with indignation when our text isn’t answered immediately.
Witness the ongoing political conventions … rather than addressing the detailed planks of their platforms, the candidates instead waste the time of We The People by instead declaiming the other as a crook. Oh, an overly polite comedy will ensue when they meet some weeks hence to debate. They’ll each smile and shake hands … after literally months of characterizing the other as a spawn of the devil. Instead we’re relegated to 30-second soundbites amid the dribs and drabs of tweets and posts with which to form an opinion of how best to vote our franchise.
For the most part, technology has improved our lives but (in my never to be humble opinion) “social” media only allows one to farther remove oneself from life.
Seriously, would a return to the world of the 1950s/1960s be so bad?