It is the stuff of almost every day driving! You will likely see the sign and know that either your lane is ending or the lane of the person driving next to you is ending. In my previous post below, I talked about the trend of people not merging anymore. Yes, people these days just keep driving forward. You also know that I just let them in!
EDITOR’S NOTE: SEE PART 1 HERE⤵︎
Life becomes so much easier when you let people in!
What did she do? She pretended like she did not see me! I know she saw me! I know because earlier she had looked over at me. I know she knew I was there.
However, I am bothered by an even more disturbing trend that I have experienced. It scares me and feels to me like an indicator of where society is headed. I feel a terrible collision is about to happen and want to at least sound my warning voice. So, please, pay attention to this “check engine” light and see where you stand in this regard. It scared me when this recently happened. I was in the lane that is headed forward. The car next to me was in the lane that needed to merge into my lane. The driver was heading forward rather rapidly and I was at least a half a car length ahead of her. But what happened next frightened me. She almost caused an accident. What did she do? She pretended like she did not see me! I know she saw me! I know because earlier she had looked over at me. I know she knew I was there. However, when it came to merging, she just headed forward, acting like she did not know I was there. If I had not hit my brakes, we would have had an accident. She would have smashed right into my car. Well, clearly, it would have been her fault. She was in the lane that needed to get over and I was definitely in front of her. To me, that seems like a sad victory if I am in an accident that I could have prevented. So, I hit the brakes and let her go!
I was shaken by the whole experience. I know she knew I was there! She chose to go forward as if I was not. How did she know I would stop? Does she not care about her car? Her safety? Other people on the road? What has to happen in someone’s life that they will completely engage in reckless and dismissive behavior blatantly ignoring another person?
It is disconnection! And, my friends, it is getting to be an epidemic that I don’t think we can ignore anymore. And I am not just talking about an ever more common event like this happening in traffic. It is in our homes, our marriages, our families, and our lives. We are snubbing or “phubbing” people in our lives and it is not an inconsequential matter.
We live in the most addicted and distracted era in the history of the world. We have smartphones in our hands, touch screen laptops on our desks, and talking guidance from boxes everywhere around us. We can program our phone, our TV, and even our home. We can have our house warm up the hot chocolate, turn down the heat, and brush the dog. Pretty soon, we may not have to do anything but look in the direction of the Pop-Tart we want and it will drop itself in the toaster and march warmly over to our waiting mouths. Heck, it might even jump in! While all of this can be so very wonderful and convenient, it is causing this disturbing trend of disconnection in our lives. We have a generation of people who are choosing technology over time with the ones they love. We have a cohort of children who cannot carry on a face to face conversation, making eye contact or being reciprocal. Preferred is the video game interaction over the people-to-people contact. Phones get more facial recognition to get in than family members. Siri almost recognizes voices more than friends.
I see it happen all the time in my world. I hear and see people all of the time–everywhere I go–staring into screens instead of the eyes of their sweetheart. I see groups of people together, but not really together. Their bodies are in close proximity, but their eyes and minds are so very far away. Too many are losing themselves in a digital world that is limitless in its scope and capacity to take us away! And it is taking too many of us away!
We are ignoring the people right in front of us to connect with people or information or recreation. I see it happen all of the time. We know that they are there. Maybe they are doing the dishes, cooking dinner, or hopefully expecting we will want to be with them the most. I see people with tears welling up wanting connection and instead, they get the top of the head as a face is in the screen. I see children shouting–literally or in misbehavior–hoping to draw out the attention of a parent. I see partners vying for the attention of those who once adored them over the small screen. I see parents helplessly shrugging and walking away when their children choose gaming or social media again and again.
Pretending or actually ignoring the people in our lives for the technology in our hands and homes is causing something horrible to happen. We are losing the very things we so desperately need to be happy and fulfilled. We are losing each other.
It is no small thing to head down the roads of life ignoring the people around you. You need them. They need you! We need each other! There is no substitute for meaningful, close, and connected relationships. No amount of digital contact can take the place of face to face, in the flesh, warm closeness with someone who loves you! It is the most fulfilling experience we can ever have. We need it to stay alive and fulfilled! It is a must-have!
So, please take your eyes off your screen right now! No, seriously, look up! Look around you right now! How long have you been on your phone? How many articles have you been reading? How much time has gone by? Is there someone near you that could use your attention–your undivided, uninterrupted, unencumbered time? Is there anyone that needs you without a phone in your hand, on your lap, or in your holster ready to draw at a beeping notification?
Instagram can wait, my friends! Twitter will still be tweeting well after you have lost the moment! Facebook will not fail while you spend a moment with someone you love! The movie will be there later! The never-ending news feed, game suggestion, or imaginary worlds to conquer can be paused! You do not need them. This may come as a shock to some of you, but you will not die without them.
There may be a moment when you are speeding onward, pretending not to see the person next to you, where they hit the brakes and move over so you can go on after whatever it is that you are chasing. They may take another route and go in a different direction. They may not be there when you get back, come back, wake up, and see the light. They may just be gone. Don’t drive others away from you by pretending they are not there!
I love my technology and all it allows me to do in my life. However, I never want it to become my life. I am committed to ending distracted living in my life. I want the people around me to know they matter more than any program or play station! I want the people in my life to stay in my life! That is where true happiness really lies.
Please don’t pretend like you don’t see me!
And I so agree, Jim! What’s really interesting here, though, is your apparent age … you look like you’re way younger than my kids … which means all this tech stuff is “normal” for you in terms of it’s having been around all your life. Try being a senior citizen! Although I love much of the tech world — can’t leave the house without my cell phone — I don’t love our dependence on it.
I know I’m an old fart in many ways — I do not have nor do I want Siri / Alexa / whoever else listening in on my private conversations. I do not need to ask them what the temperature is outside; I can go to the door, open it, and poke my head out. (Gasp!)
When my friends and I walk in our small village right on Buttermilk Bay, we have a rule: phones in pockets, with sound off. Yes, the phones are good to have, especially in an emergency. Yes, it’s possible we might want to take a picture of something. But we’re walking together to be together for the time we plan. And since time itself is the one absolutely, positively, 100% guaranteed nonnegotiable item in our lives (so far, anyway), we take full advantage of it.
Tech is fascinating, truly. But it’s not life. Real life is all around us, waiting for us to see it, feel it, merge (there’s that word!) with it. Pity that so many don’t.