Smile! OMG, don’t move, that’s perfect…Wait, one more!
Traveling through Southeast Asia has taught me a few interesting things:
- I’m getting older
- More patience
Not only are there millions of people everywhere — like really, millions — but there are also millions of cars, scooters, and so much hustle. I’ve never had so much trouble walking before. Simply walking without disruption is something I’ve clearly been taking for granted.
In addition to the crazy hustle of people and moving vehicles, I find myself having to constantly slow down, walk faster, or move out of the way because EVERYONE is taking pictures. Of everything. All of the time.
The old fashioned lady in me has become very easily annoyed by this constant picture-taking. At first, it was really hard for me to understand and I made judgment. I felt this way back home, this annoyance over people always being on their phones, but this, this was a whole new level. Whether they’re out to eat, at the mall, in a coffee shop, on the bus, or just walking, they’re fixing their hair and taking pictures, and not just pictures. Selfies, and their sticks. Everywhere.
I will never personally understand this. It makes no sense how people can be out with each other and literally not utter a word. They don’t even look at each other, let alone talk to one another. They are entirely consumed by selfies and social media.
As you know, this is not a new phenomenon. I’ve just now become more fully aware of how judgmental I am about technology and its use. Don’t get me wrong, technology is wonderful and I use it for my own work, but I just really value the company of another person. In physical form. I value genuine conversation, and human connection — on a level that’s beyond a flash and a forced smile.
Over the lunch hour in Hong Kong, a group of friends meet at a mall. One table, 6 chairs, 6 people, 6 meals, 6 left hands holding a cell phone, and 6 right hands a utensil to eat. No one even looks at their food. Just their phones.
The more time I spent in the sea of cell phones and selfie sticks, the more judgmental, frustrated, and sad I became. It’s one thing to document memories, but all I was seeing were memories being missed out on, because everyone is always on their phone.
By no means is this a bash on technology, or on Asians, rather an opinionated observation about human behavior, and my reactions to it.
I feel sad about the change in human interaction I’ve witnessed over the last few years. In many ways, the popularity of technology is exciting, and it creates tremendous possibilities and opportunities. At the same time, I just can’t seem to get past the amount of time it consumes.
Let’s be real, you’ve found yourself lost in the world of social media and selfie taking more than once. I do it too sometimes.
I’m not saying that people shouldn’t use social media, I’m just saying it takes up so much damn time. It’s changing the way people are – they way they live, the way we live, and I’m resistant to it.
I’ve traveled all over the world over the last 15 years, spending months at a time in other countries. I wanted to see how others lived and interacted; I wanted to interact with others. On this trip, things are different. Now I feel like an outsider not just because of race, but because I’m not constantly on my phone taking pictures.
The longer I’ve been here, the more I’ve adapted to this being a part of the way of life. I’ve learned, for example, that posting pictures is a part of their culture, and is also impacted by social status and pressures to document this.
I’ve learned to better control and manage my reactions to seeing people on the phone all of the time (I try). Now, I smile and try to embrace others’ excitement over photo taking. My own values about how people should spend time with each other are exactly that – my own values. Not everyone values this in the same way.
I do think, though, that the more people find themselves on the phone, the less they start thinking about its impact. The more it becomes acceptable to spend entire meals taking photos and posting them online, the less important and relevant the human experience becomes.
And is this just my opinion? You bet. Does everyone act this way? Nope. The human experience has been changing and evolving over hundreds and thousands of years. This is just another step, I get that. This change has caused me to become more self aware, and to really think about how my actions impact others.
I’m curious about the changes you’ve noticed in your life. Has the way you interacted with others been impacted by technology? I still make some judgements — I’m not perfect. But I’m willing to reveal those judgements in order to have a better understanding of the world around me.
And I’m doing this using technology 🙂