I went walking around just to walk today. Ok, actually, I went to grab a taco. That’s not the point. The point is that I could have driven, but I didn’t (um, no sorry this isn’t a green post although I do love Earth). I took the long way. I walked around a while even after picking up my food. The sky was gray. The air had made itself cold enough to get some attention from me—who can blame the air. How often do we think about the air around us when it’s not chilling or warming us? Needless to say, I enjoyed my walk all the way to Chipotle.
I stood in line and did what everyone of us does every now and then. I put away my phone and looked around. I shook my head after realizing that every single person in the building besides the workers had a phone in their hand. There were a couple of men in the back, scrolling and scrolling endlessly. There were some moms, poking and tapping their huge screens. And then there were four little girls sitting in front of me. They ranged from the ages of about 6-14. They could have been sisters, but I wasn’t sure (probably sisters though). What struck me was that they all sat next to each other in such a way that I could group them together rather obviously, however, they did not interact with each other at all. All of them had their phone in their hands, turned horizontally for game mode. You know, the serious stuff.
After watching them for a while (the Chipotle line was struggling that day), I noticed that they were actually interacting with each other. “You have 10,000 points? I only have 5,000!” squeaked one of the younger girls. The girl she was speaking to, one of the older ones, shrugged her shoulders with a sly smile. Her eyes never left the screen as her younger companion sat next to her in awe. In fact, after a while, I realized they were giggling and laughing and throwing dialogue around regarding levels and points and such things that I couldn’t really follow. I was just pleased that they were…connecting? (Is it inappropriate to use that word if I don’t mean on social media stuff? Can I use that when I mean personal human interaction or is that not okay?)
The way I could hear them talk and laugh with one another, and yet see no eye-contact made between them made this whole scene somewhat perverted. It looked like some tech ad I would see online. You know, you’ve seen it on some blog embed with a video of the ad with the title of said blog post being something like, “iPhone Ad Pulls on the Heart Strings Once Again.”
Was this okay? These girls “hanging out” and connecting with each other without even knowing what color shirt the other one was wearing? Was this just the equivalent of me playing with dolls when I was younger and having an older generation wonder whatever happened to playing with jacks and a ball or marbles? Was this just part of life? Would these girls grow up to look down upon the future generations wondering whatever happened to Flappy Wings?
Either way, it made me feel a bit claustrophobic. I wanted to run outside and get some fresh air and sunshine just for their sakes. The poor kids. Not only was it that they had 10,000 points in some game on their phone, but they were zombied out! Without a Starbucks Frappuccino, I don’t feel like they would be capable of the hyperness I had in my preteen days.
But who needs energy when you’re chilling at Chipotle, I guess. I mean, I’ll just say it, these kids are rich, cell-phone wielding, Starbucks drinking kids. I might be making a big assumption here, but I don’t think they even know how well off they are. When I was little, I didn’t know how good I had had it. Anything I didn’t have that other kids had, I wanted. If I couldn’t get what other kids had, I of course, assumed that my parents hated me. These girls in front of me? They were the “Other Kids”. I imagine their heart rates jump up from soccer practice or swim team for the scheduled amount of time. But there is no way that they prance around on their own like… well, I did when I was a kid. You think I’m wrong? Well, fair enough. Let’s drop them off in a field of grass and see what they do. At their age, that would have been my heaven. My bet is that they’d probably be doing the same exact thing they were doing in that Chipotle…Given that their phones had service, of course.
Maybe I’m too cynical. I need to give those girls a break. Maybe it all just hit me at once. And I think it did. The problem was that I had the whole day. I didn’t drive or power-walk over to chipotle from my apartment in a rush. This was my first afternoon off in a while, so I moseyed. I MOSEYED. Who has time to mosey these days? Well, I had time, and with all that time I realized how little other people mosey. Just scroll scroll scroll and tap tap tap. I’m pointing fingers now, but I know I would start having withdrawals if I tried to stay away from my scrollies and tappies. Yes, that’s what I call them. Shut up.
I don’t even think the problem is technology. I love my laptop. You can pry it out of my cold dead fingers if you want me to “prove technology is bad” and give it up. Don’t even try and call me out for being a tech hater because i’m not. I love my technology. I admit it. My phone is my best friend. Seriously. Don’t touch it.
We all go outside. We all see people walking around when we’re driving to work. But, I feel like lately, we’re never outside just to be outside. Honestly, how often do we look outside our car window while commuting and just wonder how many petals are on the flowers outside? (This is just an expression, please don’t crash and die.)
The problem is that when we’re outside, it’s because we’re going to and from places. We’re going to the post office, a yoga class, a gym session, a restaurant… When was the last time you were just going out to not be in? No destination. No location. You just want to feel the air around you and figure out which way the wind is blowing on your own. See what it’s like outside without asking Seri!
I know it’s hard. We have jobs. We have school. We have family. We have schedules and routines and, hey, we like our yoga classes. But if you just go and…
You know what? Why am I telling you to go outside? You’re going to do what you want anyway. This little piece isn’t going to change your life. Let me stop making demands and start making declarations: I’m going outside. If you’re still here when I get back, I’ll let you know how many petals are on those flowers.