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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Guy on Ninth

The guy on 9th and Nicollet looks at me.

“The world is getting louder,” he says. “In all kinds of ways. “

And I know exactly what he means. 

It’s not just the sirens.  Not just the dogs and the airplanes and the birds at dawn – for cryin’ out loud, what are those birds doing?! – but even our personal loudness.  The phones and the iPods and the devices we hadn’t ever thought we’d need, ever be surrounded with.

I was in the elevator the other morning with four other people.  This is not uncommon.  Uncharacteristically, I was not wearing headphones at the time.  But the other four were – and they were all checking their phones.  Heads down, fingers caressing the screens.  And this struck me.  I mean, six-thirty in the morning and there is already something we just have to know, have to check in with?  I’m not saying we should all be fully present or be speaking to each other.  It is, after all, six-thirty; but as a friend, should we be hunched over our phones already?  Hey! I’ve got 45 seconds before the elevator doors open.  I wonder if my freakishly angry political friend on Facebook posted another rude comment?

I can’t help but smile.  It’s six-thirty in the morning!  Really:  is this good for us? 

It’s ridiculous.

I LOL. 

No one on the elevator notices.

Has the world always been this loud, so distracting – so petty?  A thousand years ago, did someone stand out on the prairie, look out over a herd of buffalo and feel a hole in his life left by the lack of something to pull from his pocket and play with? 

How were we so easily trained?

I worry about this, about the stolen silence. 

“The modern man is being led by the nose, man, to just shut up and be distracted," the guy on 9th says.

And I pretend to check my phone to discourage him from asking me for money.

But what if the guy has a point?

What would happen if we weren’t distracted?  

21 comments:

Leenie B said...

I'll find a great answer for you just as soon as I check Google for conspiracy theories. Hope you're feeling better.

Delores said...

If we weren't distracted we might (heaven forbid) notice each other and communicate face to face. More and more we are becoming insular...separated...alone in a crowd of millions. This is not how it is supposed to be.

Mac n' Janet said...

We're supposed to be distracted, all our little toys are the equivalence of the Roman circus. If we didn't have them we might think.

Launna said...

I think if we were not distracted, we would have actually converse... ;-)

The Jules said...

Modern life is like being in a conifer forest, and people are like the trees. You don't notice them unless they're particularly unusual.

Or have a squirrel on them.

joeh said...

Before cell phones we just stared at the ceiling in the elevator.

Chicken said...

Distractions are many and free. We don't need technology to be distracted. Why, just look at that beautiful herd of buffalo right there. I wish Herb could see this herd of buffalo. I should go find him and tell him about it.

vanilla said...

"Be still and know. . ." With all the noise and distractions, we now know everything, and we know nothing. Sad times. Yes, I am raining on your parade. Sorry.

Joanne Noragon said...

I see I came in right behind vanilla. In the vernacular, it is what it is.
On the other hand, it may foment a new renaissance, called alternative focus.

jenny_o said...

From observation and reading, I believe that those who are truly continuing to be creative (in all fields - art, science, business, etc) have consciously chosen to limit their screen time, aside from computer use that is actually needed to advance their creativity. They use it as a tool, not as a toy, and do not let it rule their lives. My two cents' worth.

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
I hear ya gal, I hear ya...

This is actually a very serious point and one I could overload your inbox with. Could. But I won't. It is something to be wrangled with though as there was a news item on here less than one hour ago about exactly this.

Some folks are simply terrorised at the idea of silence. Some have absolutely no idea what it actually means.... [step back YAM, you promised...]....xx

Linda O'Connell said...

I saw four people in four different age groups, all with their heads buried in their phones, and I thought, I hope I have enough battery left to check email. It's a curse, I tell you.

fmcgmccllc said...

I am so sick of the phone, the looking at the phone at all times, the talking on the phone, showing me how you took your picture on the phone.

I am done with the phone people.

Ian Lidster said...

Oh sure, close with a scary question. Not distracted? Indeed. Oh well, Wendy's the only one with one of them phones so I go out unencumbered.

NotesFromAbroad said...

Funny, the Kitten and I were just talking about this .
Was the world this loud ? No ... well ... the world was loud in a different way .. but never as petty or as self-concerned.
No wonder no one cares about anyone else, they are so plugged in to their own lives and selves, they don't even know there are other people out there...

Drake Sigar said...

All you'll get from me till 11am is a series of grunts. Noone is in a mood to talk after they've been aawoken to the sound of those fucking birds singing Disney's Robin Hood again (off key, always off key).

BLissed-Out Grandma said...

My iPhone spends half its life lying dead in my purse and half plugged in on my desk while I've gone out without it. My hubby makes fun of me (it is kind of a waste) but I do mostly avoid iPhone attachment. On the other hand, my iPad is my favorite at-home toy.

sage said...

The world can get louder now that I am getting older and more deaf ;)

Far Side of Fifty said...

:0 Thanks I like to hear how it is in the big city:)

Jo-Anne Meadows said...

I thought I had an answer for you but turns out I don't sorry

Daisy said...

Some days I really miss the quiet. On those days, I turn off all the gadgets and capture the quiet back. :-)