• Signing Off for Now

    by Christy Sillman

    Cell phones have totally destroyed my favorite hobby – people watching. I think I’m a fairly skilled people watcher. I don’t stare or gawk, and I’ve got the “I’m looking at something other than you and your crazy outfit/hair/interaction/attitude” move down to a science. Nowadays, everyone has their head down typing frantically away on a cell phone, iPad or some other electronic device. Besides the occasional trip while texting, there isn’t much to watch people do these days.

    My husband Steve asked me recently what it is about Facebook that keeps my attention throughout the day. As I’ve confessed before, I’m a Facebook-o-holic, and now with the app on my cell phone, I can constantly receive notifications and messages. I think Facebook is my new people-watching obsession. Everyone is pouring their interesting interactions, daily dramas and photos onto Facebook, and I can now stare from behind a computer wall, with eyes wide open, mouth hung open, and I can even follow a Facebook trail of interesting comments.

    I have always felt that Facebook is a great social tool — it can help people reconnect with those they’ve lost contact with or even make new friends. But how does all this online chatter affect those who are physically around us? Bottom line — it’s so freaking rude to be sitting next to someone and completely ignore her/him while you’re engrossed in some online interpersonal interaction.

    I see it everywhere, and am 100 percent guilty of it myself — couples out to dinner sitting across from each other with their heads down and their respective device captivating their attention, family gatherings that find people sitting on the couch, secluded, ignoring their joyful bunch of relatives, and children playing at the park trying to get their parent’s attention but not even their whines can pry their parents eyes from the screen.

    One of my best friends, who shall remain nameless, commented that if her husband could get a “vagina app” for his cell phone she would never get laid again.

    This obsession with social media is destroying the relationships we are supposed to care about most.

    I mean really — do I really need to know the play-by-play of my friend who is searching for her missing dog? Do I really need to look at 55 pictures of some distant friend’s newborn baby? One picture really should be enough, right?

    But I truly am addicted. I actually feel a nagging sensation to check Facebook throughout the day. Could I be any lamer?

    Finally, in an unrelated tiff, my husband released a verbal diarrhea of frustration upon me. He feels neglected, and even worse, he worries I might be sending the wrong message to our son. I felt so horrible, so shameful, and so sad that my joy of socializing has turned into something very ugly.

    So where do I go from here?

    I remember a time, not too long ago, where my life was ruled by the television show schedule. I love TV, always have, and always will. Before the invention of TiVo, I literally scheduled my life around my shows — Want to go out to dinner? Can we make it an early dinner, I need to get home in time to see tonight’s new episode of Friends. Ross and Rachel might get back together tonight!!!
    TGFV – Thank God for TiVo!

    Now I watch my shows on my terms, and look forward to my television “winding-down” time with the hubby.

    So, maybe I need to install mental TiVo for my cell phone. People’s posts on Facebook are not going away, texts will stay on my phone until I read them, and I can always return a call at my convenience. I just need to put the phone down, and far, far, away.

    So that’s my goal — to be cognizant of when and where I use my phone, the appropriateness of my phone usage, and to leave the phone upstairs in its plug 80 percent of the day.

    If you need to get ahold of me, call my house, and if you don’t have my house number, I don’t really need to hear from you.

    I’ll respond to the rest of my texts and messages when I have time that isn’t devoted to those I love.

    • I would suggest you take your messages from facebook off your phone. That takes so much time away from activities and interaction. Also, I silence my phone when I am out and with other people. I leave it in my purse. I know some people who put it in the back seat of the car while they are driving to avoid distraction. Because of my work I am on my computer most of the day but I have no pop ups that say someone has emailed me. I try not to be obsessive. I have no partner or kids so I am not taking time away from anyone except myself. Having addiction to anything is not good as I am sure you know. Put away the phone. Emergencies will find their way to you. I am a people watcher from way back and I maintain it still is much better than any social interaction on a device. Good luck with this. You will need it. 🙂

    • LOVE LOVE LOVE the line about the vagina app!!!

        • Christy

        • May 15, 2011 at 10:04 am
        • Reply

        Yeah…but it wasn’t mine…it was my best friend…she’s one of the funniest people I know!! Had to use it =)

      • David Lacy

      • May 15, 2011 at 10:31 am
      • Reply

      You’re absolutely right. Those little red notification boxes work like serotonin triggers; my attention jumps and I get excited. Excited … but when I’m CALMEST is when I leave the phone at the house and I pass out on the beach.

      • Rebecky

      • May 15, 2011 at 10:42 am
      • Reply

      I have the same problem… and my fiance has the same complaints. I feel like media devices have made it harder to just “be” with eachother and with life… which is really sad.

      • Jackie Sillman

      • May 15, 2011 at 11:20 am
      • Reply

      I live to see Noah on facebook.. I will take the daily pictures and close the rest!

      • Norbie

      • May 15, 2011 at 4:23 pm
      • Reply

      Hi Christy: Like you I am also a “Facebook -o-holic” constantly checking my fb application when I am away from my computer via iPhone. When I am home, I spend hours glued to my computer, checking news stories from at least a dozen different news sites (in addition to fb).

      I download tv shows & movies via Apple iTunes (David Lacy has me hooked on Dexter) and still have fb running in the background so I don’t even need to plan my schedule accordingly to see a show.

      When I am getting together with friends, I always have my iPhone next to me (a couple of my friends have teenagers so they do the same) in case I receive a text message or a phone call.

      Except for one friend who insisted that I “surrender” my iPhone whenever we get together…. Haven’t seen her since early December… Oh Well.

      Thanks For Your Words Of Wisdom… (((HUGS)))

      • Judy

      • May 15, 2011 at 4:35 pm
      • Reply

      Loved the vagina app.

    • What the heck is a vagina?

      • Ana F.

      • May 17, 2011 at 5:23 pm
      • Reply

      This was GREAT! I think many people can relate, unfortunately.

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