Dear Little One,
Traffic is a funny thing. Have you ever thought about it? We all get so angry like it’s some separate entity, something that blocks our path like a rock or a river, but by definition, traffic is comprised of 100% us. We are what makes someone else’s journey slower just as someone else slows ours. And what’s more, we let ourselves become so frustrated and consumed by it, we will sit in our cars for hours, windows rolled up, music blaring, like we are the solitary sufferers with which no one can relate. No one could possibly understand the importance of where we are going or the burden this traffic will put on the rest of our day. We forget that we’re surrounded by people, that we’re just one of many that happened to be going in the same direction at the same time.
The other day I was on a long run for work and I was people watching while sitting amongst hundreds of others on their morning commute. I play this game where I like to guess where they came from and the little facts that make their story unique. What is their favorite junk food? When was their first kiss? Who do they miss most? These days, more often than not, I’ll find someone on their cell phone, and I’ll immediately look away. I started playing the game because I loved the honest moments I found people having with themselves. I loved the singing and dancing and the zoned out looks of internal conflicts pending resolution. These moments were raw and unapologetic because they were unhindered by the immediate presence of others. They were people allowing themselves just to be. When I find someone on their phone, it’s like looking at a mirage. The person is there, but their mind isn’t and what a crime that is to their mind.
I understand the appeal of cell phones, especially modern day smart phones. They provide us with unlimited entertainment and instantaneous connections with our peers. And I will never be able to say that I don’t spend a fair amount of my time on my phone. But I guess what’s been on my mind lately is how often people feel the need to zone out. Each time a conversation lulls or a silence extends, we reach for our phone, hoping to take our minds somewhere more interesting or more comfortable.
I’ve seen a few artists tackle this subject, commenting on our society’s growing addiction. And I know I’m not the only one that worries about our ability to physically communicate with each other. I know that technology has made it harder for me. I feel this enormous pressure to be funny and interesting at all times because those are the types of things people like. Those are the things people seek online, and if I can’t deliver them person, than why would anyone want to spend time with me? When I’m quiet, I’m boring, or so I’ve let myself believe.
This is why I’ve started making a conscious effort to put down my phone. I’ve realized: there will never be a blip of social media important enough to ignore the moment you are currently living.
I have no idea what the future holds for technology. I have no idea what kind of cell phone you will have or if Facebook will still be around when you’re old enough to understand it, but I know everything will continue to grow. Things will be bigger and better, as they always seem to be with the passage of time. And with that being said I just ask that you remember to look up. Sit quietly when everyone else is on their phone. Look up at the clouds, take a deep breath, just be.
See you soon.