I believe that technology has made us very rude. I’ve felt this way for a while, but I saw all the proof I needed over break.
Take this scene I witnessed in a food court: a girl standing at a Subway counter had her phone pressed hard against her face and ordered her turkey sandwich only in the pauses when the other person was presumably talking. I imagine that this must have been annoying for the person on the other end of the call, but I am sure that it was even more annoying for the man working behind the counter. Every time the Subway sandwich artist asked the girl about her various sub preferences, the girl found a way to roll her eyes or in some way act as if she was doing him a favor, as if her conversation just couldn’t wait until she had finished ordering her meal, as if the employee was just plain dense not to recognize that her phone call was urgent.
Over the two years I spent as a cashier at a grocery market, I witnessed this sort of scenario fairly often. It seems that everyone is far too busy to converse with a single person at a time—they reconcile this issue by holding chats over the phone while keeping interaction with real living humans to a minimum, employing heavy usage of incredibly impolite gestures and as few words as possible to the humans who are attempting to serve them. I grew to hate asking if the customer would be using cash or credit because it would almost always elicit the same exasperated glance. I understand that there are times when a phone call really does require immediate attention, but most of the time, this sort of behavior is just rude.
Not only is this pattern irritating; it’s sad. I was excited to see my friends from high school when I went home for break, but once we were all together, we almost always ended up gravitating back to our phones as the room fell silent. We had intended on spending time together, and yet we spent most of it talking with other people. We text when we hang out. We play games on our cell phones. Basically, people do not tend to interact directly with each other anymore.
In his novel “Survivor,” Chuck Palahniuk has one character describe our modern world to another character who has never ventured outside of his religious village.
“People used what they called a telephone because they hated being close together and they were too scared of being alone,” the character notes.
Sadly, this description doesn’t seem too inaccurate. Is this really the sort of society we want to live in? As I’ve said before, technology has its place, but no device in the world could stand in for real human interaction—no device that has been invented yet, at least. If you were to put down your cell phone and communicate with people face-to-face, you may find yourself benefiting from the conversation and learning things you may not have otherwise learned. It can be valuable for your emotional wellbeing to simply appreciate dialogue with the people you care about. I just think we would be a much happier species if we could learn to enjoy the company of those around us and save our games of “Flow Free” or “Draw Something” for more appropriate times.