In Sea, In Sand, Insight
As the last few weeks of summer were drifting away, I decided to spend some time lying on the beach pretending to bask in the sun while mostly feeling like a beached whale.
I brought only my Kindle for company, aiming for a more relaxing and less social day.
This seemed like a great idea because while the book could be entertaining, I also had the option of simply shutting it off if I lost interest. (This is unfortunately not the case with other forms of company.)
While I laid on my towel attempting to read my romance novel, a random beach goer, who was also alone, stopped directly in front of me and began to write in the sand. I immediately found this to be extremely odd but instead of risking increased awkwardness by actually opening my mouth, I decided to lay there and pretend like there wasn’t a strange man writing me a message in the sand.
My mind started to chatter. Who is this guy? What is he writing?
He did not walk more than three steps down the beach before my curiosity got the best of me and I looked up to see what he had written: “technology killed conversation.”
At first, I was mostly insulted because there was a vain part of me that thought the guy had been hitting on me, and then I grew more insulted when I realized he was judging me for enjoying solitude with a book.
This strange sandy encounter sparked a question in my mind: Is technology killing conversation or are people?
The topic of technology in our generation is about as overused as the Lo-fi filter. We get it, technology has pros and cons.
It may not do the best things for our communication skills and we should be able to live without it. The truth is, technology is here to stay and the question isn’t whether or not we should be using it but when we should be using it.
We are all witnesses and contributors to the damage technology can do to our relationships with other people. I have looked up from my phone at a dinner table to realize no one had said a word since we sat down. I have been in the middle of a conversation with someone when they suddenly lifted up one finger to signal that the person calling them was more deserving of their time.
These are not uncommon occurrences.
The message left in the sand included a handle for a Twitter account and before I even realized what I was doing, I searched for it online and found the account. This random guy felt that my Kindle was an inappropriate use of technology so he used a handle to get my attention about it and I am now writing about this for an online news source.
If this isn’t proof of the pervasiveness of technology in our world than I don’t know what is.
Technology has the ability to be a positive force. I still believe that using a Kindle on the beach is a productive use of technology. But the not-so-subtle message in the sand has made me think twice before I pick up my phone while talking to someone or sit down at the table during meals. There will be people that think technology was invented by Satan himself and there will be others that simply do not know how to unplug, but I think we live in a world where there is a middle ground.
When I shook out my towel and left the beach that day, one nagging question stayed with me: Why didn’t that man attempt to start a conversation rather than choosing to write the message?
Although I am quite positive the conversation would have gone horribly, I still find it interesting that his chosen method to communicate with me was via sand even though he was trying to make a point about the lack of conversation in our world.
Maybe deep down, the technology isn’t what’s keeping us from good conversations.
Maybe we’re just afraid. Afraid of meeting new people. Afraid of being rejected. Afraid that if we look at someone, they’ll just look down at their phone. Technology is the excuse our generation has found for our lack of effort in meeting new people when really the barrier has always been there — even if it is just a beach filled with sand.
Instead of condemning our precious iPhones, tablets and Kindles, we could just make a conscience effort to know when to set them to silent, sign off social media and step away from our virtual worlds.
That guy didn’t stop to talk to me, but I also never looked away from the screen.
What else might I be missing?
Feature photo courtesy of: Unsplash