Yesterday, I was driving back from taking our daughter to a family swim, musing about the number of moms who were sitting in the stands with their heads buried in their cell phones.  Nobody knows better than I that there is a limit to how many times even the most loving parent can indulge the, “Watch me, Mommy!” cries of her offspring but this vision amazed me.

On this particular day, I was fully immersed (pun intended) in the experience of spending time swimming with my daughter and giving her my undivided attention.   Thus, I was wondering at these moms, which led me to wonder at the generalized tuning out of society as a whole at the hands of technology, in this supposed age of communication at its epic.

Ironically, at this time of my musing, driving along and listening with one ear to CBC Radio, a Quirks and Quarks interview came on about cellphone use and a study exploring why people find hearing half of a conversation so irritating.  The interview was both amusing and revealing; our eavesdropping brain apparently resents having to fill in the blanks caused by hearing a “half-alogue”.

What I find even more irritating is having a half-alogue with someone with whom I am supposed to be engaged in a dialogue.  The text-aholic.  How many times have I sat and waited while a friend or family engaged in a second dialogue by text while ostensibly talking with me?  I do admit to having returned the odd text during a conversation, but generally only if it is urgent.  I do not engage in two conversations at one time.  If I am talking to a person, I believe they deserve my attention.

I believe this mentality of putting others on hold in the interest of manic communication began with the arrival call waiting.  How many times have I been mid sentence on the telephone with someone, when I have heard a beep and the person says, “Sorry, can you hang on?  I need to get that.”  CLICK…silence…

I always hang up.  Why can’t people be in the moment?  Mothers are walking their babies in carriages, all the while texting away on the top of the carriage hood.  Teenagers are walking down the street, all of them with heads down and cell phones firmly in hand.  If they are “talking” with someone else, why do they want to be together?  I have considered that perhaps they are texting one another, except that from time to time I have seen them share whatever is being texted, heads bent together for a rare “shared” moment.  

I’m not blind to the benefits of texting.  It’s nice to be able to share small moments with my sister, through the tool of instant communication.  It’s nice to have a quick word or ask a question on the fly when I don’t have time to call.  It’s not without it’s merits.  

I have even entertained the possibility that this is a new form of communication which will ultimately wipe out verbal communication!  No one seems to mind.  Perhaps our future family dinners will entail only virtual exchanges of “Pass the Ps pls.” and “How wuz ur day?”

But I really hope not.  My true desire is that people will lift their heads up out of their virtual worlds and find themselves enjoying the here and now.  

That said, I think I should turn off my laptop and go hug my daughter.

Oh…and…B4N, TTYL, BBS!