Monday 20 January 2014

Time Waster

Sitting in a local restaurant the other day, I happened to glance up and notice the table across the room. There sat 3 adults and a child interacting with 3 tablets and a smart phone.  When I walked to the counter, I could not help but notice all of them playing games.  Each and everyone in their own little world, eyes intensely focused on the screen. 

I myself confess to being guilty of using a smart phone or tablet when out with my feeble excuse of only wanting to catch up on the news, do some research or send an email or two.  Now, some will say plenty of people read the newspaper eating breakfast.  Isn’t that the same thing?  True in some respects, but usually some level of conversation is generated by this.  'Zombies V Plants' and 'Angry Birds' don’t reach such dizzy heights.

I am sure you have experienced the bus / train syndrome where people have their heads buried in the screen of their smart phone looking intently at the last Facebook musings whilst listening to music through ear buds.  Almost no one indulging in the old fashion concept of conversation.  My father would be turning in his grave to see this trend.  He would love to talk to anyone who within ear shot and over the years got to know many people through this activity; it was a very big part of his life. 

My own pet theories as to why?

One, time filling.  When we are not sure what to do with ourselves, we resort to pulling out the phone to check.  Checking what really doesn't matter as long as that awkward moment passes.  I myself look at phone some 40 times a day.

Secondly, notice how people who are bored with the surrounding conversation pull out their phone to show, in a not so subtle way “I have had enough”. 

“Facebook is communicating,” I can hear you say.   Can’t disagree with that, for me it’s quite impersonal - communication by remote control.  We become a lot braver when we don't  have to look into anyone's eyes with all the feelings that go with that and say things that we might not or could not say face to face.  

A lot of the conversations on Facebook I find is an exercise in banality, foodie photos, selfie photos, baby photos etc.  All a very self-deluding exercise in narcissism,  which in reality has little appeal outside the sender.  Am I missing something?  To me Facebook is more like, ”In Your Face,” book!

There, got that out of the way.  Back to the topic at hand.  Direct communication or lack of it.  With all the time we spend on our machines being constantly bombarded with stimuli, I wonder whether our ability to concentrate is being severely tested.  Few people especially the young can be seen sitting quietly contemplating, deep in thought. 

And those 3 adults and the child you ask?   All good things must come to an end.  Upon leaving, the child created a scene when he refused to give the phone to his father.  The magic, the spell had been broken.


  1. Excellent post, Alister. Where I ply my trade, I witness this sort of thing all too often. And whenever I do, I can't help but be bemused by the lack of communication between husband and wife, parent and child or even between lovebirds. Strange..... I've always thought coffee shops were ideal places for a good gab. Or am I still stuck in the 20th century?

  2. Albert Von Blogsworth!!! Another extraordinary read. Bravo old Chap... Bravo.


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