A week or so ago I was sitting in the smaller break room at work during our afternoon break time. I handled an important text message and then noticed other people at the table looking at their phones. I put my phone down and opened my notebook. I needed to do something productive, and so I wrote notes for this post.
I see this quite often at work during lunch and break. I am a little guilty. I will check for messages and briefly check Facebook, but I make a point of not being glued to my phone. Sometimes I will read a book in my Kindle app or edit a blog post, but I will avoid spending the entire time on pointless activities.
I also see this when shopping at the grocery store. Teenagers follow their parents with their eyes on their phones, not the world around them. I will even see people walk across the parking lot, staring at their phones. Are they aware that cars are driving by them, cars which could injure or kill them? One time a few years ago I was sitting at a laundromat and noticed two children. They were both looking at cell phones and had a tablet on the table between them. I was the only person in the entire laundromat reading a book.
I have sometimes wondered what would happen if we developed a virtual technology capable of creating a fully immersive virtual world, one which people could see, hear, smell, taste, and feel. Would some people, knowing they are in a virtual world, still feel the urge to look at a virtual cell phone and text their friends on a virtual Snapchat?
People today are addicted to their virtual worlds. I understand how it can pull us in. I have been guilty myself. I remind myself, however, that sometimes we need to put our devices down. Talk to each other, read a book, write, or think. Take some time to do something, interact with people face to face, or create something. The virtual world will still be there if we need it.