This morning was one of the most beautiful mornings that we’ve had at the beach lately, so I decided to take a long walk along the Esplanade. And as I was walking, something I had seen on television the other night came to mind. Like some of you I watched 60 Minutes last Sunday night and was intrigued by the story about how addicted many of us have become to our cell phones. The reporter mentioned that many people can’t go longer than 15 minutes without interacting with their phones; a fact that sort of surprised me!
So I decided to do my own little beachside research.
My query: On a day as beautiful as this would people actually prefer to look at their phone instead of the earth, sea or sky or perhaps even another human being?
I walked for 49 minutes, passed 71 people and greeted them all with a smile and a friendly, “Good Morning!”
40 of the people were listening, looking at or talking into their cell phones. 3 greeted me back; mostly with a nod. 7 looked a bit bothered by my greeting and said nothing and the rest of them gave me no notice at all. Nor did they appear to lift their eyes up long enough to see the sun, the surfers, the ocean waves or the seagulls over head for that matter.
That left a mere 31 who were not visibly interacting with a phone. However, I did notice that 20 of those folks (including me!) were actually carrying their cell phones as they walked. Of these 31 people, 19 of them greeted me back. I guess the rest of them preferred their own company to mine and that’s okay!
The final number of people who were not visibly carrying or interacting with a cell phone at all was 11. However, a few of them could have been hiding them in a jacket, purse or pocket. Who knows? Of these 11, all but one greeted me. And I could tell from that one’s look that he was having one bad day; so I didn’t expect him to even look up.
As I was returning to my car I got half way through the cross walk when a young man in a red truck nearly knocked me onto my backside. My eyes frantically connected with his as he looked up from his cell phone just long enough to race through the crosswalk - yikes!
Okay, I started this blog off to say something like, “Hey people put your phones down. You’re missing out on some of the most beautiful scenery around!”
But then my younger sister reminded me of a few things. Perhaps I should not be so judgmental.
Maybe my phone walker’s time was the only time they had in their day to connect with a loved one. Maybe they were actually listening to an inspirational podcast or perhaps they needed whatever was on their screen more than they needed to be greeted by some lady they didn’t even know. And maybe in between their phone calls, games, podcasts or email checking they had actually taken in a glimpse of our surroundings. At least that’s what I’m hoping for.
Trying not to be too judgmental I was still left with the question - how many of my walking buddies are missing out on the beauties of nature because of their umbilical chord to their phone. Certainly made me stuff my phone deeper into my pocket and maybe that was all that I was supposed to learn today.