I Screen, You Screen, We All Screen?

As I write this, I am sitting in the waiting area of a dance studio, while my young one dances her little heart out. In this room right now are 7 adults and 6 kids.

Only 4 people of this little crowd (1 adult and one kid, who doesn’t really count since it is an infant) are not fiddling/working/consumed with screens of some type. Two computers are out (one at the front desk and one on my lap), some phones, a DS and an iPad. I suppose it could count too that there there is a tv monitor on the wall that is showing the dance classes in the rooms, a way for parents to view the classes without pressing their noses up against the door windows and fogging up the joint. So basically, we are all in front of a screen of some type.

How has this become our reality? That we can be sitting in and amongst other individuals and we are more focused on machines than living, breathing humans? I admire my friends who dig their heels in against items like Kindles, saying they love the feel and smells of books and that adds to their overall enjoyment of reading. I’m split on this one…I think that my Kindle is one of the greatest inventions ever when used during travel (with airlines charges, why have your reading materials add to that? Save room for souvenirs!) and for any mom who likes to have reading material with her when she is waiting, waiting, waiting around during her kids’ activities. On the other hand, I’m a cookbook freak and that is something I’ll never purchase a digital version of.

And here I am,  typing on this computer (pens and papers be gone…how on Earth did writers ever do it that way??), so I’m not one to talk. This blogging hobby of mine has followed me out of my home and right over to a dance studio, courtesy of a mobile writing device. I think what bothers me most in this crowd is seeing the little kids hooked up to the screens. That nanny over there…she could be reading to the little girl in her care or having her color in a coloring book or play with a toy, but the nanny is engrossed with information on her phone (answering the inquiring girl by not even turning her head to speak to her) and the little girl is being entertained by the small bit of technology in her wee lap. So much for human interaction.

I’ve read articles here and there that suggest we are losing our ability to meet people eye-to-eye, that the…eh-hem…younger set is having difficulty with such basic things as phone etiquette, job interviews and speaking to real-live people, as  texting and emailing has become the preferred mode of communication. And we wonder where empathy in our world is going? How can we learn or teach empathy when a great portion of our day’s interactions are with machines?

Can we even go a day without a screen of some sort? Remember 15 years ago? There were barely any cell phones and the ones that did exist were only phones (the horror!). There were also no GPS’s (how did we keep from getting lost?? Oh yeah, AN ATLAS), no iPods, iPads or iTouches. No “I” anything, in fact, except for our own selves. Our I’s.

Even today, as I was typing on my laptop, I periodically looked at my phone at incoming texts. Screens, screens everywhere. Good lord. When I am double-fisting technology, it’s probably time to turn it down a notch. But. It’s. So. Hard. Sometimes.

Technology is here and here to stay. We longed for these times when we were kids, watching Buck Rogers and Star Trek and wishing we could talk into our wrist watches and little screens and have them do things for us. But we must remember (myself as much as the next person)….as I always tell my girls…Humans Trump Screens Every Time.

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