Friday, September 11, 2015

The Time You Spend

I sit in an airport awaiting my flight and look around. I see couples, singles, old, Black, Hispanic, disabled, hipsters, youngsters, nerds, working professionals, and more. I marvel at the diversity and people watching you have the opportunity to observe and take in all in one location. The biggest marvel of all perhaps, is the things that seem to unite all of us sitting there besides the obvious of trying to catch a flight; technology. Whether it’s the technology medical advances that have increased the average life span or the technology failures that can occur to delay an entire airport system and ruin hundred’s of people’s delays in a matter of minutes, technology is changing faster than many of us can fathom and it’s here to stay.

Is all technology good though? It’s a philosophical debate. 

I continue to sit completely still in my seat in the airport observing those around me. It’s unlike me to sit this still but as my work laptop refuses to connect with the WiFi, I have no choice but to sit in peace until I reach my destination and can finish the project I need to complete. I take in those around me and observe, not for the first time, how incredibly rude we have become as a society. I watch many of those traveling with earbuds in, no desire to engage in conversation of any manner with those around them, including their own spouses and children. I watch many knowing that the only exercise of the day they have will be the movement of their thumbs swiping on their electronic devices.

My heart sinks at that thought but a topic for another day.

I can see many of their screens. Twitter, Instagram, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, and U.S. Airways appear to be the favorites of the group immediately surrounding me. I look around and suspect that would be the selection of the majority of the airport.

I shake my head and continue to observe.

For those not web browsing, I watch individuals of all ages and backgrounds play candy crush and other mindless app games including children who perhaps, are too young to be touching an electronic device to begin with.

My heart sinks.

Where did meaningful conversation go? Chatting with those around you, connecting with your loved ones as you sit with them and for parents in this day and age, one of the longest period of time in one sitting you get with your children.

It’s not just the airport. If it was, it would make it better knowing people hate waiting and this is how they cope. However, I see it in every situation. Couples and families out to dinner. Friends at a party on their phones rather than catching up and really hearing what is going on in their friends lives rather than a superficial conversation once again.

I once went on a date with a guy who took four phone calls and sent twelve text messages before I stopped counting in the span of 45 minutes before I promptly told him to just go home.

How did we come to this? When did we start accepting this as “normal?”

I login to Facebook as I need a break from this activity of people watching and scroll through my newsfeed.

I grow more depressed and bored the further I scroll.

I used to love Facebook. I could keep in touch with friends and family far away. Send mass messages and update others on a regular basis about my life without actually having a personal conversation individually about it.

I’ve grown tired of it.

Are you twenty something old female growing more impatient by the day that everyone around you is getting engaged but you?

No worries.

Just login to your social media and see all the great pictures of what just has to be the fifth engagement this month on your screen.

Hate your job?

No worries.

Read all about the great opportunities your friends are exploring.

Wish you could afford the Caribbean vacation everyone else at work seems to be taking?  Just scroll. You can live it vicariously through your friends who kindly upload 212 of their vacation pictures they took a week ago for your leisurely perusal.

Think you aren’t skinny, educated, fashionable, wealthy, or happy enough?

You’re right! If you think for a moment you are where you should be, just login and see how much happier, more successful, more beautiful and fit everyone else is than you. Social media does a great job of confirming that for you. It would hate for you to think you’re doing better than anyone else.

Any given day I can feel insecure at the drop of the hat and if I look at social media, it can only serves to reinforce any insecurity I’m feeling. So why would I want to add one more way to do that?! That’s when I realized, social media, just isn’t for me.

I asked the girls in my high school bible study recently, to raise their hand if they check all their social media via their phone first thing in the morning before leaving their bed.

Every. Single. One. Raised their hand.

My heart sank.

Most of you at this point probably think I’m a sad, underpaid, angry individual sitting behind a computer who has some vendetta against social media and while the second part of that might be a little true, the first part couldn’t be the furthest from the truth.

I’m a really happy,  well-compensated individual for my age that is incredibly blessed. Anytime I doubt any of that, social media just serves to compound that feeling and feed and sow those seeds of unhealthy emotion inside of me.

I’ve deleted the Facebook app off my phone. I have to manually login through the web if I want to view it. I had Snapchat and Twitter for about five minutes two years ago but couldn’t access it now even if I wanted knowing I don’t know how to use it or my logins. Instagram and every other app out there has never been on any device I own. It won’t be either for the immediate future.

I’m not trying to tell anyone how to live his or her life. Social media can be great to get a message out or connect with those far away.

It’s deceptive though. It’s only a small snapshot of others lives. It’s not a personal connection. The people who seem to lead perfect lives and constantly have amazing posts aren't showing you the complete picture. Social media is the biggest photoshop scandal out there that we aren't talking enough about or protecting our kids from.

But (and there is always a but), when you realize you are allowing social media to dictate your feelings and consume your life, when you realize you spend more time on it than with the people you call friends and family; you’ve reached the final stage in the grief healing process known as acceptance.

So let's change this. Change how you interact with friends and family. Get more personal. Spend more time with them. Spend less eye contact with your screen.

And if you don’t and I see you out for lunch with family, eyes glued to your device, well,

My heart will sink.