I’m not a fan of monopolies no matter how convenient they make shopping, or how cheap they can sell products. Progress is good in many ways, but the easier it is to do things from a computer – shopping – the less time we spend interacting with others. It’s the same dilemma we find ourselves facing with cell phones. The computer and cell phone are sad, inadequate replacements for looking into a person’s eyes, watching them smile, and communicating with them in person.
When I’m in front of the computer, I don’t feel the breeze brush across my cheeks or taste the salt torn from the crest of a wave. I don’t hear birds chirping, or see the flash of a shooting star. I like to picture clouds as animals and play tic tac toe with the contrails of aircraft; I like to gaze into the night sky and wonder how far the universe extends. I like to look for mushrooms and remember the days when I thought elves danced around them and lightning bugs were fairies darting here and there. I like to chew on a blade of grass the way I did in the outfield while waiting to make that amazing basket catch.
It isn’t much fun when your neck hurts and your eyes ache from paging through all the shoe styles at Macy’s online. It isn’t much fun when I spend all weekend writing on my computer and miss the joy of spending time walking my dogs or hiking in the forest. I made a pledge to limit my writing time no matter how much I want to finish my novel and submit it to agents.
We lose a bit of the connection to our humanity when we isolate ourselves from the world instead of walking among people when shopping, or when we stare at our phone screen instead of daydreaming or chatting with the person next to us, or when we breathe the stale air at home rather than the fresh fragrant air of a walk in the woods.
I miss the mom and pop stores I grew up around, the ones that closed on Sunday so family could go to church and spend time together. They’re permanently closed now because they can’t compete with the Big Boys. The Big Boys are closing now, too, because they can’t compete with cheap and convenient.
I hate my phone yet I’m chained to it. I’m sick of my computer but it links me to the world that wants it nownownow. I loathe myself for the weakness of spirit that elevates convenience and speed above fresh air and leisurely face-to-face human interaction.