Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Are we becoming a world where nobody looks up?

Yesterday I was in an elevator texting a friend on my way down to the lobby. At the 6th floor, a woman got on and gave me friendly hello. It took me a moment to get out of my texting mode until I looked up and returned her greeting. When we reached the lobby she smiled and said, "we're becoming a world where nobody looks up." I told her that I agree and that it's a shame, but I have become a part of this world.

Is it true that we've become more focused on contacting people virtually than interacting with those around us? Is it such a bad thing that we sometimes stay more connected with our loved ones through texting and email, even if it's at the price of interacting with strangers we see daily?

On one hand, it is a little disturbing that the probability of meeting new people per chance seems to have gone down. Most people talk on their cell phones, text, or even email while walking through their neighborhood. If a stranger was to slip or loose their balance, would we be able to come to their rescue in time before putting the phone back in our pocket, or before our attention has shifted from the virtual world to our exterior surroundings? What if someone needs help with directions, but you pass by without noticing because your face is focused on a new email? What if that stranger could have turned out to be a new best friend or even a significant other? Are we preventing ourselves from spontaneous experiences that might enrich our lives?

On the other hand, with the modern smart phone, we're able to stay in touch with the loved ones we have even more. Through texting we have the ability to instantly check in on a friend or partner, and stay intimately connected to our circle of relationships. And if you don't end up meeting a new friend or lover through circumstance on the street, you could surf the web on your phone and go to, facebook, twitter or to find someone new.

What is the trade off? Which way of life is more important to you? Is it a bad thing that the world is becoming more connected through technology and smart phones? Or do the positives outweigh the negatives where through this technology we are improving our relationships with friends and family, and changing the way we do business? I think the next time I'm in the elevator and the door opens, maybe I'll just hold off on texting until I reach the lobby...