I’m a people watcher, but hold on: I don’t peek through windows or engage in stalking or gawking, nothing creepy like that. Wherever or whatever I’m doing, I usually find something that sparks my interest.
Humans are fascinating; however, I’ve noticed that folks have become painfully predictable — and where’s the fun in that? Folks are striking a weird pose with their “neck forward” postures and have acquired the habit of looking down — down at their mobile devices.
While out to dinner with my gentleman friend, we were the only couple that was interacting one on one. Folks were interacting, all right, but not with each other. We watched in fascination while couples sitting across from one another were lost in their own worlds — the “other worlds” that lived in their mobile devices.
At an exciting Mets game, I was shocked to see folks looking down into their mobile devices instead of out on the playing field. Mind you, it was the bottom of the ninth and the score was tied! Huh?
Going to concerts is something I refuse to outgrow. Last summer, while at a Jackson Browne concert, the gals in front of us were checking their emails. Checking their emails instead of watching Jackson Browne perform live? Incomprehensible.
Last week, I went into a favorite clothing store and before I could say “Watch out,” a gal looking down at her phone smacked right into a large pillar. Then she looked up, stunned!
Many of you know the beach is my happy place. Yet this past summer I was taken aback by the many folks who were playing with their phones instead of kicking back and enjoying the beautiful weather and surroundings. (The teeny gals clad in teeny-weeny bikinis didn’t faze anyone.) Hard to believe!
Yup, folks are obsessively scrolling up and down their mobile devices to ensure that they don’t miss a “like” on Facebook or an important photo posted on Instagram. When we’re not scrolling, our hands are hovering over the phone ready to pounce when we hear that notification ping — right?
Physicians and chiropractors are seeing more patients with overuse injuries such as tenosynovitis, the inflammation or swelling of the tendon, typically the wrist, caused by repetitive movements such as texting. Or text neck (I kid you not!): the aforementioned forward head posture that results in chronic headache and upper back, neck and shoulder pain.
Psychologists are treating folks with cellphone addiction. We’re pumping adrenaline while waiting for the “ping” that will quell our anxiety, feed our habit and let us know we’re “liked.”
Lost communication skills are the most damaging overuse injury. Our spouse or partner may be talking and sometimes we barely listen. We may be getting the “twitches” because the one-sided conversation may be taking us away from the stuff in our “other world.”
We’re fortunate to live on the North Folk, my “paradise found.” I ask: How often do we look up from our devices to take in the bay, sound, creeks and inlets? Watching the waterfowl skimming over the water or the seagulls scouring from above lifts my head and heart. Capturing our magnificent sunrises or sunsets is a photographer’s dream.
I’m as guilty as the next, but recently I broke up with my cellphone — temporarily, that is. And guess what? Nothing earth-shattering happened. OK, I missed a few “likes” from my other world.
A prayer I say frequently reminds me of the power of looking up. “At your command all things came to be: the vast expanse of interstellar space, galaxies, suns, the planets in their courses, and this fragile earth, our island home.”
Walk outdoors sans your phone and listen to the thundering silence. Look up at the sky, notice the formation of the clouds, watch the sunrise or moonrise, then observe the brilliance of the stars. Contemplate how all of this came to be and how amazing our really-real world is.
It is, you know: You just gotta look up.
Top photo credit: Celia Iannelli
Ms. Iannelli is a resident of Jamesport.