I was driving past a local high school yesterday at around 11 am. It was cloudy but not too cool and not raining. There were about 30 students outside and the majority where looking down at their hands, thumbs flying as they sent text messages.
First cell phones became ubiquitous and you would nearly run people over down town because they were too busy to pay attention to where they were stepping. Now we are becoming people who only know they exist because they bounce a few letters and words off another person who responds in kind. One teenager told me the other day that he hates talking on the phone and prefers texting. That way he can control the flow of information in a very one sided fashion. No social skills needed and no time to waste on real interactions.
I really fear that we will become walking automatons living inside our own heads. We are partially there when you think about the prevalence of IPods and MP3 players out in public and in the workplace. There is nothing more annoying than trying to get someones attention and then having to repeat yourself once the headphones come off or the device turned off. Yes, I know that they are great when you are working out in a gym. However, I tried walking with one on outside and despite a low volume you could not hear cars approaching or, for that matter, birds chirping.
Meanwhile, at the high school, the clouds were fluffy and gorgeous, the grass was green but no one seemed to notice.