August is rolling to a close and September is just bursting around the corner. While my own children are long grown and gone, I am still happy to see school beginning again. All the kids here at the apartment complex will be heading off, and once again calm and quiet will reign supreme. No more late night ‘HEY JIMMY! COME HOME NOW!’, or ‘KEVIN! GET IN HERE NOW!’ will waft gently along the courtyard at 10 o’clock at night. Or 11. Sometimes midnight (honestly, where the heck are the parents? These kids are about 10 years old).
Well, quiet and calm will mostly reign supreme. There will still be the
idiots, um dumb-asses, er, inconsiderate adults who think it’s okay to stand outside at 4 AM and talk in loud voices. Next summer, I’m getting a water cannon. Wake me up on a work night, risk getting a good soaking (silence is golden, but duct tape is silver). At least I’m not thinking of shooting t-shirts . Those hurt.
My own summer has been rather quiet. My attempts to date have been by in large been a failure (although I am still seeing Mr. Square Dance). At some point, humans have forgotten how to talk to humans and care about, well, anything. Except themselves. The selfishness I see is sometimes amazing. Heads up out of your phones, unplug those stupid headphones, look up and SEE the world. Guess what? You are not the only one! I know! It’s amazing what happens when you stop obsessing over ‘being connected’ and actually connect!
A few tips:
Driving. You are in vehicle that requires YOU to pay attention to it and the world around it. Put your stupid phone down. Stop texting. Stop READING texts. Stop making and taking calls. Drive. The. Car. It will all still be there when you stop driving. Try being in the moment, watching traffic, paying attention to the outside world. Believe it or not, I can see you picking your nose at the stoplight. Being in your car does not make you invisible. Or invincible. You crash that puppy, you will still get hurt or die. That text message or e-mail will not save you.
Eating out with other humans: Put your stupid phone down. Stop texting. Stop READING texts. Silence your ringer. Pay attention to your friend/spouse/significant other/date sitting across from you. You just may find you actually like that guy/girl if you TALK TO THEM. Julian Lennon (yes, THAT Julian Lennon) and his friends stack all their phones on the table when they go out and eat. The one who picks up their phone during the meal, pays for everyone’s meal. Try that.
Talking to other humans: Put the stupid phone down. Stop texting. Stop READING texts. Stop taking calls. You are in a conversation already. So be IN that conversation. It’s rude, extremely rude, to interrupt someone to answer a call. Or text. Or send a text. As my daughter put it ‘If I am taking to you. If words are coming out of my mouth in your direction. DO NOT interrupt me to answer your phone to say ‘hi’ to your stupid boyfriend.’ Okay, she was pissed off when she said that, but you get the idea.
Honestly, it’s not that difficult. Way back in the dark ages, we had phones that were attached to the wall. We didn’t carry them with us. The phones stayed at home sitting on desks and tables, or hung on walls. We didn’t have voice mail or answering machines. If someone rang and you weren’t home, they simply rang again later. If it was important, or an emergency, someone went out and found you. We talked to each other face to face. Meals went uninterrupted by bleeps, blurps and annoying ringtones.
What this boils down to is this; You can’t be connected by being connected to your device. You have to look up and actually talk to other humans face to face. You can’t find love or make a marriage work via your mobile. You can’t work on a troubled relationship (this includes friends and family) by being withdrawn into your phone or computer. You have to be in the moment, face to face, voice to voice, emotion to emotion.
And stop giving mobiles to your kids. Good god. Who thought it was a good idea to give an eight year old a mobile? At the very least, don’t let them take the stupid ass thing to school. They don’t need a phone at school. They may actually make friends if they can’t spend lunchtime playing games on their phones. Need to get a message to your kid? Guess what? The school office can do that!
This covers you workaholics too. You can’t really help a client while you are driving. And you certainly can’t help a client when you drive into a ditch or wrap your car around a tree. So take breath. Pull over. Make or answer your call. Oh, and I can see you picking your nose at the stoplight too. Still not invisible.
Look up. See the sky. The birds. The clouds. Take breath and connect to real life. And those things that look sorta like you? Those are other humans. Try talking to them.
It’s a trip.