BEEP. Alarm clock.
Wiping the early morning crust from my eyes, I shoot up with the passion of a hunting dog that has just tracked its prey. Armed with a creative infusion, I do what I always do in the dread of forgetting a good idea, and I emailed myself. I then calmly warmed back into bed, cuddled up with my French Bulldog and went back to sleep, awash in the relief that my brain had the digital reminder it needed.
Rising and establishing the outline for the day, I checked my email. From one of those people you can always expect an insightful morning cup of Joe, there was a video waiting for me. It is entitled, "Look Up." Go ahead. Give it a gander. I'll wait.
I live in Los Angeles and at least three times a week, I run around a reservoir in the morning. Sun shining, dogs happily shaking their tails, my slow pitter-patter on the dusty trail as I trot-trot around the man-made water source. Every morning, without fail, in the glow of the calm water and the L.A. sunshine, there are a percentage of folks glued to their phones, marching forward like lemmings off the cliff. Many times, they are so glued to their little screens that they forget the world around them and walk carelessly in my path as I, a horrible runner managing her slow trot as best she can, come face-to-face with a decision: 1. Alter my path or 2. Make my presence known.
Many times faced with this dilemma, I have simply repositioned and carried about my day. A friend once told me, "You can either swat the fly away or choose to ignore the fly." Today, however, I am compelled to make a small mark on the world and swat that damn fly away.
"BEEP!" As I slowly bounce up to my first robot, I exclaim to him in his perfunctory state. Alarm and whimsy wash over him, and he looks up immediately, stepping out of the way. Success. Rather than move around him, I have shaken the tree of his attention back to the world in a humorous rather than judgmental way. Just like the car 's horn shrieking when you inadvertently swerve a lane over while trying to wipe snot off your baby's face, I'm just keepin' it real.
I'm walking down the sidewalk in lower Manhattan to meet a friend, and a robot is mindlessly texting away while, God forbid, trying to manage the highway that is a New York City sidewalk. There are PSAs for texting and driving, but surely after watching many instances of near death experiences texting and walking, there need to be PSAs for this. This particular well-heeled robot is dressed in the outfit that screams intelligent, well-put-together, office person. I imagine she must work in design because of the bright colors blaring from her feet like a boom box held close on the shoulders. This seemingly intelligent woman, mouth gaped open, feverishly hurries towards me, cell phone in palm typing madly, almost colliding with a trashcan parked at the corner.
"BEEP!" I shout out like a bike messenger giving the middle finger to a car that has come too close. Terrified, she almost spills the fancy macchiato perched in the crux of her arms while her eyes shoot laser beams into my face. She moves out of the way, and I continue walking.
As a recovering digital addict constantly struggling to reconnect to the world, it is difficult for me to have what feels like a first look on a world, which was already there. Now that I have new eyes, or possibly just decided to start using them, I was initially antagonized by the visual threat of human beings constantly ignoring other human beings. Sure, there is always some reason for distraction but most of them are dismal at best.
We transfer so much to our phones, screens and social media networks that we have lost the physical connection of the person in front of us. The happenstance of meeting someone on the street or at the deli counter is lost by headphones stuck in ears and the constant looking down at screens. We have created walls to the physical world because the supposed connection of the digital world is easier. We create perfection in our social networks because the fantasy can be edited at will, unlike real life.
BEEP! Look up. Put the phone down. If the scariest thing is being awkward, I'll help by making a mockery of myself. I've always been the class clown, and I can march forward with this tradition happily. Just please, for the love of all that is holy, put the damn phone down and have a conversation with your child, wife, stranger or that guy at the corner who sells coconuts and what appears to be light-up pinwheels.
At the end of your days, your Facebook friends won't fill the room at your funeral. The ones who do arrive won't commend your text messaging speed or ability to Instagram perfectly filtered photos. We will celebrate you, the time you held our hand while we lamented the latest break-up and cheered us on when we got that promotion.
You... No Screen.