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.