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Smart Phones, Dumb People

I was at the beach the other day and watched as two parents sat on a log, tapping away on their smart phones as their three children played at the water's edge. The waves were not big but one of the toddlers was no more than three and could have been knocked off his feet by an unexpected wave. The parents? Oblivious!

What could possibly be more interesting on a smart phone than playing with your children at the beach? There is so much to explore. Little crabs hidden under rocks, tiny little fish darting about in tide pools, making sandcastles, drawing figures in the sand with sticks and finding interesting things that have floated to shore.

Fun at the Beach. No Phones or Tablets

When my three kids were growing up, my wife and I spent hours and hours at the beach, exploring, fishing off the rocks, making sandcastles and teaching the kids water safety, how tides work, what to pick up and what not to. Beaches are a wonderful learning environment for children and a great place for family fun. Yet, here were these two parents more absorbed in texts or emails or apps than they were in their children, not only in the fun aspect of the beach visit but in the safety aspect.

Dumb People Walking

I am afraid we have developed or a developing a society of real stupid people. You can see them everywhere. A parent pushing a stroller across a busy intersection while gazing at a cell phone. Pedestrians, crossing the road, oblivious to traffic, eyes fixated on their screens, often jaywalking or crossing against the red light. Haven't they heard of the Darwin Awards? [1] It is now common place to see several people sitting around a table in a coffee shop or cafe, all gazing at their phones. What happened to conversation?

Texting While Driving

In spite of laws prohibiting the use of a smart phone while driving, you still see people phoning and driving. I saw a woman behind the wheel of a very high end Mercedes the other day with five young children in the car, one hand on the wheel, talking on her phone. The police are still giving out tickets by the dozen in spot checks to people not only talking on their phones but texting while they are driving. How dumb is texting while driving?

Then there are the people in supermarkets, many of them at the checkout counter either tapping away or talking, often loudly. They must have extraordinarily important matters to be taken care of that they cannot take a few minutes out from their phones to checkout their groceries.

There are so many beautiful aspects to this world we live in. Sunsets, sunrises, flowers, trees, children having fun, parks and beaches, a warm night walk just to name a few. But, we are becoming a race of zombies, hijacked by little electronic devices that did not exist thirty years ago. Are we a better world with smart phones? The jury is still out on that question. One thing for sure, we do need a handbook of smart phone etiquette - and not in app form.

And it's not the lion!

[1] The Darwin Awards: They recognize individuals who have supposedly contributed to human evolution by selecting themselves out of the gene pool via death or sterilization, by their own stupid actions.

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