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Another blow for womankind

My transition from hip, cool Baby Boomer to doddering old lady has been marked by a series of horrifying incidents. The first was when the child in the ticket booth at the movie theatre sold me a senior’s ticket without my asking, and despite the fact that I am obviously barely old enough to drink legally. Then, there was the time the lady at Shoppers Drug Mart gently suggested I might qualify for their seniors’ discount.

cell phone 4The latest blow to my fragile ego came this week when I purchased a new cell phone—not a Smart phone which I’m too stupid to figure out—but a basic, no-frills device designed for infrequent users like me. While I own a cell phone, I rarely use it and have never figured out the rest of the world’s addiction to the eyes-down, thumbs-constantly-engaged lifestyle. My old cell phone died after years of boredom and lack of use, so, I went to Walmart and purchased a new one for $19.95. After removing layers of packaging the size of a bread box, I unveiled my new flip-phone. To my horror, I’d purchased the dummies version which was slightly bigger than my old one, with large numbers that can be read from across a football field.

Hello? Operator?
Hello? Operator?

My new cell phone is a simple device designed for a simple mind. And I like it. Just don’t ask me to text, swipe merchandise for a price check or even activate the voice mail feature. In fact, if you call me on my cell, you’ll probably get no answer as I rarely turn it on. No worries about me talking and texting while driving or having lunch with my Boomer gal pals. But, it’s there in my purse and always charged up in case my car breaks down, or I do. Old things have a tendency to do just that and this old lady may no longer be hip or cool but she is packin’. I’m no dummy. And, thank goodness Walmart still takes good, old-fashioned cash.

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Thank you for no smart phones at the table this Thanksgiving

The sad, current state of personal communication.
The sad, current state of personal communication.

My art instructor posted an interesting photograph on her Facebook page the other day. It showed half a dozen teenagers sitting on a bench in front of a famous masterpiece at an art gallery. Every single one of them was looking down at their smart phones, oblivious to each other and their backs to the artwork. We witness similar scenarios every day; a group of people sitting around the table in a food court or coffee shop, individually intently texting or reading something on their personal device instead of engaging in real, personal conversation, the kind that involves interrupting each other’s sentences, group laughter and touching one another’s arms or shoulders in warm recognition and affection.

I’m getting really tired of the slavish devotion to smart phones. We actually managed to exist quite well before they were invented and while I applaud their benefits, let’s rein in the addiction a bit. When I’m having lunch with you, or any meal for that matter, I do not care that your grandchild wants you to know what he or she is eating, doing or thinking at that very moment. I do not want to see pictures of your son’s new deck or your husband’s trip to Home Depot for paint. Unless a close family member or friend is on their deathbed, put your phone to bed.

Thank you for our blessings.
Thank you for our blessings.

When my husband and I were visiting war cemeteries in France and Belgium last fall, we were shocked and heartbroken to see a group of teenage students on a field trip to the sacred Tyne Cot cemetery climbing one of the larger monuments to squeal and pose while they took selfies of each other. Does no one realize there is a time and a place for everything?

As we gather around the table for Thanksgiving dinner this year, let’s turn off our phones, turn on the conversation and enjoy our bounty in person. Living in the best country in the world, we have so much to be thankful for: a democracy (including a soon-to-be-over-with election campaign, thank you), our friends and family, plenty of food to eat, healthcare, community and so many other blessings. Let’s do it the old fashioned-way this Thanksgiving dinner. We’ll talk, laugh, make eye contact, hug and share. And for those blessings alone we should be truly thankful.

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What would Steve Jobs say?

VEven Steve Jobs recognized the importance of disconnecting from electronics.
Even Steve Jobs recognized the importance of disconnecting from electronics to recharge.

Arianna Huffington made an interesting comment on Real Time With Bill Maher this week that echoed something I had been giving a lot of thought to lately. All the hype around the launch of the iWatch left her wondering what Steve Jobs would have thought about Apple’s latest release of something “we didn’t know we needed”.

In an earlier blog posting (Feeling uninspired, take a nap) I championed the merits of down-time. Experience has proven that we get our best ideas and think more creatively during periods of idleness or quiet time. Our brains need time to recharge and Steve Jobs recognized this by meditating regularly. He credited his Zen time for being responsible for clearing the way for his best ideas. We have to wonder what his reaction would be to his company’s release of a 24/7 gadget that you strap to your wrist to ensure that you’re absolutely never out of touch. Huffington went on to say that apparently many people actually text while having sex. While I could never claim to be talented or dexterous enough to accomplish that feat, those who can will delight in the hands-free benefits of the iWatch.

phone1I have a cell phone which I rarely use and I venture to say my life is as full and rewarding as those who are on a smart phone drip. I bought the cheapest plan available and will never in my lifetime use all the minutes I’ve accumulated. It completely baffles me why people have to be constantly texting or talking in the course of their everyday activities. I don’t hesitate to ask friends to put their iPhones away during lunch or dinner. It annoys the hell out of me that people treat their smart phones as life-lines, afraid their heart will stop beating if they aren’t immediately aware of what their son/daughter/husband/wife/grandchild is thinking or doing every minute of the day. And don’t get me started on driving while texting or holding a smart phone.

No one can deny the many benefits of having smart phones and I acknowledge that. However, the constant buzz and busyness of 24/7 electronic communication must surely be robbing humanity of that vital Zen time we all need to function as healthy beings. When I see people walking while texting or talking on cell phones, I can’t help feeling sad that they’re missing the sound of the birds, feeling snow flakes on their eyelashes, enjoying deep breaths of fresh air, marveling at the stunning contrast of colours between green treetops and blue sky or simply daydreaming.

thriveDo we really need to know our heartbeat or how many calories we’re burning every minute of the day. Even Stephen Jobs, with his obsessive Asperger’s-like behaviours allowed time in his schedule to disconnect. And Arianna Huffington has written a book about the subject, “Thrive “.   Are we becoming a society of zombies enslaved by our electronic devices as if they were life itself? Sadly and tragically, the answer is yes. But I’ve chosen to opt out and I really don’t think I’m missing a thing.

book coverFor further insights into the Boomer perspective on business, fashion, mind and body, book and movie reviews, order my book, BOOMERBROADcast. It makes a great hostess or birthday gift as well as just a fun read.

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