I don’t like being told what to do. Even when the advice is good, my initial reaction upon receiving it is resistance. I also do not like telling other people what they should do.
When I was about eight years old, I watched my grandfather install new tiles in our living room ceiling. I noticed after a while that he had made a mistake. He had put one of the tiles in the wrong way. I didn’t tell him, though. I waited for him to notice what he had done and correct it, which he eventually did do.
I wished fervently that I had found the courage to tell Grandpa kindly what he had unintentionally done. It would have saved him some time and labor and would have prevented my feeling miserable until he noticed the mistake himself.
Thus, today I have summoned up the courage to say this: People are using their phones too much. In fact, many seem to be on the phone almost all the time. They make and receive calls, texts, emails and instant messages. They surf the Web, play games and obsess over Facebook. Someone has suggested that if an alien were sent to observe the behavior of humans from a distance, he would return to report that most people spend the day holding one hand to an ear or scrutinizing one of their palms.
Last week while taking a walk, I observed a young mother out for a stroll with her toddler. I watched with sadness as the mother, engrossed in using her phone, failed to notice that her toddler was walking down the middle of the street. Though we were not walking in an area of heavy or fast traffic, I wanted to say to the mom, “Your little boy is in the street,” but I didn’t say anything. She must have eventually recognized what was happening and rectified the situation because I heard of no children being run over in my neighborhood.
Diners at restaurants often spend more time using their phones than they do conversing with the other people at their table. Shoppers split their attention between selecting their purchases and using their phones. Thousands of times a day young children are admonished, “Wait a second. I’m on my phone.” More disturbing, according to safety experts, texting while driving is now a leading cause of death among teenagers.
People use their phones while doing their banking, while working in their houses and yards, while bathing their children and while supposedly “visiting” with someone else. While it was once considered rude to ignore the people around you, that practice is commonplace anymore. Do people ever make eye contact?
I don’t like being told what to do. You probably don’t either, but I am telling you this: Focus upon what it is that you are doing and upon the real-life people who are in front of your face. Put down your phone.