Is it me, or are people these days just not paying attention? Oh sure, they are all tweedling-tweeting and facedy-facing like mad, but are they aware that there are actual, non-virtual humans all around them?
The other day at work I was walking down a narrow hallway behind two men walking side by side, both intently working their iPhones. They took up enough space so that I couldn’t walk around or between them. I had to actually to repeat “excuse me, EXCUSE ME!” several times before they heard me and moved. Ok, well, maybe that isn’t the worst thing in the world. They just were not aware of where they were and who else might be around.
Then there is the now-famous YouTube video of a woman walking in a mall, so focused on her mobile device that she fell into a fountain. She later had the nerve to complain about people laughing at her! Seriously?! Sorry, honey, but if you are too dumb to look where you’re going, you’re going to do dumb things and have people laugh at you.
Is the lure of high-tech devices so incredibly awe-inspiring and addictive that we forget to live in the real world? I’m not a *Luddite by any means; I love emailing and posting and checking out funny cat videos as much as the next person. I guess I’m just too old to understand the lure of posting “**selfies” on every surface of the Internet and having 3,000 “friends” on FaceBook.
Then there are all the message boards out there on every subject you can think of, where you can happily hide behind your avatar or screen name to be as snarky as you want to to other humans. Certainly there are lots of good things on the Internet; I won’t deny it. I have enjoyed walking virtual trails in Hawaii, have seen the frozen tundra of Alaska, watched dolphins playing in the water, drooled over the Crown Jewels, and visited Stonehenge and many other places.
But like anything else, moderation’s the key. One of the saddest things I’ve ever seen was a couple on a date in a nice restaurant, both of them on their iPhones, chatting up other people–all during their meal! Sadder still is that major cities are now painting “Look up!” signs on their streets to remind people to look where they are going. Major stores post large signs reminding people to look in their backseats to make sure that they don’t forget their toddler….I don’t even have words to describe how scary and depressing that is.
Perhaps it’s time to remind us all to pay attention to people and things in the REAL world.
A Luddite is a person who dislikes technology, especially technological devices that threaten existing jobs or interfere with personal privacy.
The word Luddite has an interesting origin in pop culture of the early 1800’s. Legend has it that a young man name Ned Ludd broke an expensive knitting machine in Nottingham, England. Because Ned was considered to be “feeble-minded” by his boss, he wasn’t held financially responsible for the broken equipment. Afterwards, when factory equipment broke, the damage was always blamed on Ned Ludd.
During the Industrial Revolution, when factory workers organized to express their dissatisfaction with work conditions, the legend of Ned Ludd was politicized. One well-known method of protest was for workers to dress up in disguise and visit a factory owner late at night. The workers, claiming they had been sent by General Ned Ludd, demanded changes in the workplace. The invocation of Ned Ludd’s name made it clear to the factory owner that if the demands weren’t met, the owner’s expensive machinery would be destroyed. The Luddites enjoyed a kind of Robin Hood reputation and the movement was generally supported by the public until a protest at a Lancashire mill went terribly wrong and several people were killed.
**I personally call this phenomenon “selfishies.” It’s as though people think that, if they post enough pictures of their own mug in cyber-space, that will make them cyber-space celebrities.