As we have been progressing through our vacation, I can’t help but notice the numbers of folks that seem to be glued to their smartphones. I think one of the reasons that I notice this is because I’m guilty of spending too much time on my phone.
When we were packing for this trip I decided to use my iPhone 6s Plus as my camera and opted not to bring my point and shoot camera or my DSLR. I’ve been happy with the photos that I’ve snapped but when we are out and about and I’m snapping away at taking photos, there have been a number of occasions where a notification of some sort has come up on my phone… a Twitter notification, the number of folks that have liked a photo on Instagram, a stray email or two in my inbox. As a person who is easily distracted, these notifications pull me out of the moment that I’m trying to photograph and put me into something happening halfway around the world.
That’s not living in the moment.
This morning, as we enjoyed a beautiful breakfast in an open-air restaurant overlooking the Pacific, I noticed the number of folks mindlessly eating their breakfasts as they stared into their smartphones. The activity they were engaged in was unknown and probably unimportant, but it was busy enough for this family to not notice the bird that was walking across their breakfast table. Honestly, I found this kind of startling.
I get that people like to feel connected and acknowledged by the world through their electronic gadget. Chat boards, groups, social networks and the like all make for great ways to make connections. I have made some wonderful friends via Internet over the years, and it’s these connections that inspire me to share our experiences through photos, blog entries and the like. I know that I sometimes get removed from the moment in lieu of an electronic moment happening 3,000 miles away, but as I strive to better myself for living in the here and now and put away my iPhone, I can’t help but notice the folks around me that don’t share that interest or desire to disconnect from the bits and bytes, even just for a moment.
The thing I find most surprising is the number of children that aren’t swimming in the pools or taking a raft ride down the lazy river, instead opting to do something on an electronic gadget while sitting at a poolside chair. That’s just weird to me. I wonder what this generation of gadget kids will be like as adults. Will they need constant stimulation from somewhere other than their surroundings to survive? The thought of such a dependency is horrifying to me.
Our smartphones and tablets and computers have provided us with amazing opportunities, especially over the last decade, and I think that it’s just going to get better. But I think for us to survive as a society we need to learn to live in the moment. We need to share and engage with those that we are standing or sitting next to. It’s only when we strengthen our personal relationships that we can learn the balance necessary to engage in the electronic world.