Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Phone Home.

Montreal is buzzing with people (tourists, local residents and students) especially three weeks before Christmas and at rush hour.  While in the big city today I couldn’t help but notice how countless people were fiddling with their phones even while crossing the street.   Ironically, it was an unusual phenomenon for me.  It seems not too long ago, our parents used to tell us to stay off the phone because it was meant specifically for emergency purposes.   I remember being 19 years old.  ET (my husband but boyfriend at the time) and I used to talk for hours on the phone until his father couldn’t get through and get a ride home from the airport.  We were consequently lectured: “Nobody needs to say that much to each other.”  I guess my father-in-law along with most people of his generation didn’t predict today’s major technological shift into cell phones.

At a red light side by side to a city bus I couldn’t help but peek at the passengers and count an overwhelming number of them busy on their phones.  It may sound strange; but for an instant I was nostalgic missing those days where I could cross someone’s glance and for a moment envision his or her whole story.   Honestly even before the arrival of the cell phone Western society was focused on individualism; which meant we were very absorbed in our personal story and missed obvious details around us.  Now, with a phone continuously at our disposal, individuals are constantly distracted and engrossed in anything but the present company or present event.  Like MR was saying yesterday when we discussed the topic: “It literally feels like people or popping in and out of places or situations because their presence is frequently displaced.”

Finally, in a doctor’s waiting room where I spent two hours of my afternoon I watched every single patient divert their attention to games or emails – again on their phones.  I don’t think Alexander Graham Bell ever envisioned his prized invention becoming such an intricate part of human life.   When my kids were growing up (in the 90’s) one of the popular questions of the time was: “When is it too young to give them a cell phone?  The concern was that they would over indulge:  Forget to do their homework; or/and concentrate too much on friends and games.  It didn’t cross most of our minds to question the impact the cell phone would have on the social development of a whole generation.

Today as I glimpsed over the population of cell phone fanatics in the core of the city of Montreal I realized how humanity as subtlety loss its grip on God’s-given-creation and chose instead to journey with a man made mystery. 

After reading my blog entry to GP -- he asked: “What are you saying? What’s your complaint exactly? What is it that you don’t like?” 

I chuckled.  He doesn’t usually have a Western expectation.  Any other time, he would have simply nodded and sat with it for a while.  Dreamt with it.  Yet, today hypersensitive to the experience like I was he surrendered to it; became part of it. 

“I don’t have a complaint,” I told him, “nor a judgment, nor a like or dislike.”

“It’s simply an observation,” I added, “a consciousness of the reality.”

I promised myself that every day I would tangibly be aware of what is there around me. That in itself pulled me out of the scene.  A silent witness.  Something else than the linear, Western perspective.  Circular: The Wheel.


Wheelkeeper said...

"...Today as I glimpsed over the population of cell phone fanatics in the core of the city of Montreal I realized how humanity as subtlety loss its grip on God’s-given-creation and chose instead to journey with a man made mystery...."

This line resonated with me Lisa.
I found that since I decided to NOT have a cell phone for emails, FB etc... just for emergencies... I also noticed how much it has become part of our world today, so much so that we dont' see the forest OR the trees. I had become disconnected from nature!

When I lost my cell phone recently, I decided to not get a new one. I felt lonely. But I also felt more grounded, more present to my immediate environment and less fragmented - not to mention that my nervous system felt a lot calmer.

I became more aware of how acceptable it is for people to interrupt conversations with you to answer a text on their phones. Everyone does it. Then they come back as if nothing happened. I actually felt their presence leave the room and return.

I may be from an older generation lamenting for the "good ol days" when people talked to each other without interruption. But life goes on, change is inevitable. My parents saw the horse and buggy become trains and planes. Phones, not to mention computors never existed when they were young.

Each generation brings something new and we have to adapt. But I can choose to say no to some changes too, to not participate in the changes that don't work for me even if everyone else is doing it.

Its a choice I made.


Lisa F. Tardiff said...

Thank you for your posting Mary Rose.