Writer - Author - Poet
Writer - Author - Poet

Not long ago, I spent an overnight at a swanky hotel in the city. Does anyone use the term swanky anymore? Anyway, it was a nice place. The rooms overlooked the harbor. A fluffy robe and towel were provided for the spa, the swimming pool, or the hot tub. Since I had some time before my dinner engagement, I decided to change into my swimsuit and go for a soak.

It was relatively quiet. No one was in the hot tub. A man and a woman lounged by the pool. A family of five was seated not far from where I was. The mother and father were relaxing on recliner chairs, seemingly absorbed with their phones. The oldest daughter, who I assumed to be about 10, was hunched over her phone rapidly touching the screen. The son, maybe 7 or 8, wore a sweatshirt over his swimming trunks and was also touching his phone screen in rhythmic patterns, suggesting he may have been playing a game. The little girl, around 4, sat on the stairs at the shallow end of the pool, splashing her feet in the water and humming a tune I didn’t recognize.

I sighed when I got in the hot tub and closed my eyes for a bit, enjoying the soothing feel of the hot water and the propelling jets on my back. When I next opened my eyes, I noticed the little girl trying to get someone in her family to pay attention to her. Her voice was soft. She spoke in a language I didn’t know, but I did understand a few of her words.

“Ma,” she said, followed by phrases I didn’t understand. Then, she lay on her stomach and made swimming motions. “Ma,” she said again, followed by a few words that I interpreted to be “look” or maybe “watch”.

Her mother didn’t notice. She seemed completely absorbed in whatever was on her phone screen.

The little girl moved over to where her father sat. “Baba,” she said, a little louder this time. She proceeded to make some moves in the water. “Baba!” followed by those words that I thought meant “Look at me”.

Her father didn’t notice. His eyes focused on his phone screen.

She went back to where her mother was and tried again. No response. Then she tried to get the attention of her older sister and brother. No response.

For my entire soak, I did not see the little girl’s family look up once from their screens. They did not see her attempts to float all by herself. They did not see her trying to stand on one leg and balance. They couldn’t see or hear her because they were literally in another world; a computer-simulated environment with specific spatial characteristics in which they were either communicating with others or participating in games or watching videos.

Some experts say the regular checking of our phones triggers the same neural pathways as gambling and drugs, leading to addictive behavior, called nomophobia –the fear of being without a mobile device.

I grew up before the internet, cell phones, and computers. We played outside until dark. We participated in games with whatever we could find –hopscotch, skipping, red light green light, daisy chains, hide-and-seek, marbles, and street hockey.

Was it a better time? Or are we better off with the advancement of technology and cell phone use?

I don’t know and I doubt I’ll have an answer to that question before that little girl has a cellphone of her own to use.

Enjoy the Passage of Time.

Sharon

© 2024. Sharon Kreider. All Rights Reserved.

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