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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Me? No. Not Distracted.

Separating household goods, separating emotions, Pearl remains confused, a bit sad-ly, and tender to the touch.  Please enjoy another kind of distraction below, where the man on 9th and Nicollet wonders aloud for all of us...


The guy on 9th and Nicollet looks at me.

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

I know 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, 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? 

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?  

22 comments:

Jocelyn said...

We'd have to go back to uncomfortable elevator silences, where we stare at the buttons and walls because it's too early to speak to each other. I like that. It's a coping technique. With phones in front of us always, we don't have to learn to cope with interpersonal stiffness.

Mary Koppel said...

Ah - you nailed it Ms. Peggy Pearl - imagine the world problems we could address if we were merely present. Must come visit the porch soon - or as soon as the north coast gets back to something resembling normal warmth.

vanilla said...

Just because a philosopher or prophet pontificates from a street corner does not mean he is necessarily wrong. Praying a quieter and stress-free day for you.

joeh said...

What you say is just so...wait a second, I've got to get this

Delores said...

In lineups the old folks talk to each other while the young focus on their screens. When all the oldies pass away there will be no one left to talk to each other. We will all become drifting islands of noisy silence.

jabblog said...

Sad, isn't it? Gone are the days when a newspaper could be noisily opened in front of one's face . . .

Pearl said...

Such good points, all!

Tell your children and your children's children to go into osteopathy and chiropractics-- I believe there will be a great future in realigning our progeny's spines, given how much time they spend looking down...

ThreeOldKeys said...

and speaking of kids ... how sad that tiny little kids can hardly look up from their games on kindle, etc.

we had a winter of snowbanks, and i didn't see one set of kids digging tunnels or even building a snowman.

does every generation of codgers think they have the most to lament? i think ours could make a good case for it.

Launna said...

I love technology Pearl but I've been thinking the same thing lately... I grew up in an era that none of this existed and got on fine without it... Although I feel connected with it, I amost feel disconnected at the same time. I've been working on putting the phone away for parts of the day... just to focus on other things... ♡

Joanne Noragon said...

Didn't that fellow on the plain pull a wooden nickle with a buffalo imprinted from his pocket?

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
... he absolutely does, Pearl, the guy has a point... Still huggin' ya from afar... YAM xx

Rose Blackthorn said...

I ran away to the country.

But jeez, the birds sure are loud out here. And don't get me started on the cows...

Jono said...

I can hear the hum of your fair city from about 50 miles out. That's why I live in the woods. If you interrupt someone looking at their I thingy is it considered rude?

Marty Damon said...

Was it Brave New World or 1984, in which the Powers That Were, would, as punishment, put you in a room with the thing you fear most?
Now terror would come by being left in a room with no electronic devices.

Eileen B said...

Nothing scarier than the sounds of silence, in a world, where no one can here you scream.

jenny_o said...

And it is not just the absorption of people with phones - it is the slack-faced, vacant-eyed absorption of people with phones! (Can you tell I'm not a fan)

sage said...

It sounds like things are tough in Pearl-land, hugs.

And yes, I too get tired of being constantly contacted and of turning off my phone so I won't be rude in a meeting and have someone upset that I didn't get back to them on their text for an hour... Hang in there!

Linda O'Connell said...

I have noticed that fewer and fewer young people make eye contact or offer a greeting. Sounds like you could use some cheering. Remember it's always darkest before dawn.

River said...

The guy on 9th has a point. a very good point. An excellent point. The guy on 9th might just be smarter than most of us, buried in our phones as we are.

Rose L said...

People rarely notice what is going on around them! I think the constant checking of cells is horrible. I rarely take mine out and do not have one of those smart phones (might make me feel stupid).

Deborah said...

Yes and yes! Just three years ago I was ruder than rude all the time with my damn phone/ipad/other shiit. Now all of that mostly sits in a different room and when I'm out I want to engage with the peeps I made plans with to SEE! I'm getting more and more curmudgeonly.

I can't even talk about "checking in" on FB. Oy vey!

But I do love to eavesdrop. The best!

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Working with teenagers, I've begun to wonder the same thing. And I fear for our self-control, so much screen addiction!
Honey, I don't know your whole story, but the little you shared makes me want to give you a big hug. And a bottle of wine. I'm sorry you're forced to untie.