Being a Househusband gives me plenty of time to observe lots of different people. Given I walk everywhere also means I tend to see many things that other people miss. Being a nosy busybody helps as well.
I see lots of things I don’t understand but the one thing that always surprises me is phone usage. I’m not talking about the people that seem to always be listening to something other than the real world – I’ve talked about that before and, frankly, it’s boring. No, I mean the people who regard the phone as more important than their kids. Or dogs.
I see it all the time. That is no exaggeration. The pet owners who stop watching their dogs because something more interesting has pinged on their phone. The people who push their kids through the park happily chatting to their phone while the child in the stroller natters away to the air. I assume that prior to the invention of the mobile phone, these parents would have talked to the child instead.
I wonder what sort of developmental issue this will create in these children. Will they be unable to have a conversation? I guess the example they’ll have will be that of their parents so I imagine they’ll just ring people and talk that way. Exclusively.
I’ve started listening to TED talks while I do the housework (not with earplugs or headphones, I hasten to add) and the other day listened to a chap who was talking about the bad side of our reliance on smartphones. He gave an example of the anti-social implications of a society when, in a meeting, rather than discuss things vocally, people would rather text each other ABOUT THE MEETING!
He went on to discuss the dominance of social media advertising in determining our lives. His cry of “If only we had to pay for these things, they would not have such power over our opinions!” resonated deeply with me. Each time I see someone click on an image or make a comment on some random ‘page’ I wonder why they regard their personal information as so cheap.
For instance: Every time a user ‘likes’ a page that contains a list of names with a heading that says something like Ten Women Who Are Likely to Get Drunk at Parties, this information is collated and added to a digital file on the user. Firstly it signals that the user is a woman, secondly it implies that the user drinks alcohol. Thirdly it suggests she goes to parties. Finally it says that the user is easily led to click on things. Even more insidious is the fact that people are encouraged to tag their friends as well.
I’m not saying that people shouldn’t have fun and enjoy their social media. I’m suggesting that people should consider who they are giving their lives to.
Value, I guess, is what it’s all about. People value their personal information below that of their children which they value below that of their phones. Every time I see people ignoring their dog or their child in favour of their phone, I wonder about their priorities.