I took my daughter to the library today. I love the library. It's rooms full of dust and possibility and impending knowledge. And people of all walks of life.
Our local library is small, but comfortable. They've strategically placed overstuffed wingback chairs, loveseats and sofas throughout. It's clean, save for a small amount of dust on the books and shelves here and there. My only complaints are a limited selected, and periodically, unruly children.
Today was one of those days. There are two small children running slipshod back and forth from the childrens room to the 'tween' room, full of chapter and audio books. They look to be about two and three, with piles of unruly mocha locks, steel blue eyes and chubby red cheeks. They are squealing with delight, playing tag/peekaboo behind the bookstacks and librarian's unused desk. The older of the two, a girl in a well-worn pink sundress, stops dead in her tracks and squeezes the younger one in a death-grip hug, and gently kisses him on the top of his unkempt head. Their caretaker - a young woman in her early twenties - is ensconced in her cell phone, and amazingly oblivious to their activities and vocalizations. I am disheartened - not only because I love the quiet deliberation of the library - but because she is missing out on the magnitude of the moment I, as stranger, witnessed and appreciated in her stead.
I worked in technology for 20 years. I understand the desire, the ease and time saver these expensive instruments can provide. We gain added minutes - but for what? If we are using that 'freed up' time to addle about on Facebook, post our arrival on Foursquare, Tweet while watching Big Brother...are we really gaining value?
I've made a decided effort to put down my cell phone. When I am at the dinner table, the cell phone is in the other room. When I go for my evening stroll with my husband, the cell phone is left at home. I am one of those folks that if I am meeting you for coffee, I will put my phone on vibrate and look you in the eyes when speaking. I will pay attention. If I am babysitting my grandson or taking him to the park - he has my full and deliberate attention.
There is great significance and worth in human contact - even eye contact. You cannot get a glow, a sense of wonder - from a text. You cannot recognize brief glimpses of sadness or sorrow while you are uploading tweets. I don't want to miss these moments. Technology is supposed to free up our time to allow for more opportunities for the really important people and events, not become so paramount we go hyperventilate if we lose it.
Panic attacks should be reserved for when your child is running around the library, screeching and yelling.