Have we lost our tongues?

BUSINESS AFTER BUSINESS - Girlie Garces (The Freeman) - October 28, 2015 - 10:00am

I’ve been on and off planes a lot lately, and I cannot help but notice the many people in the airports who just bide their time with their gadgets.  What!  With the traffic in Manila, and yes, Cebu as well, people strive to be early at the airports in order not to miss their flight.  That is if they do fly on time, which is …sorry I can’t help to be a bit sardonic sometimes.  Not when I wake up very early with only three hours of sleep only to end up among the sleepy heads and bored dudes in the airport pews.   Anyway, as I sit unobtrusively in a corner, I begin to make my own statistics of the people who are playing with the apps on their phones as others continue to conduct their business through their tabs and laptops. 

Couples whose heads loll together, slouch carelessly, still with their tabs on hand and ears plugged with earphones.  No one seems to be talking except for a few middle aged women who seem to be attending a class reunion, and another group who look like they were just from a  funeral with the way they were dressed and the solemn hushed conversations they strived to tone down.

But they were the rare finds.  People seemed to be oblivious of how as they kept connected, they were actually disconnected.  A woman approach a man who looked like her husband asking him whether he wanted some coffee and his eyes barely left his computer as he raised his brow in inquiry about the disturbance.  Wife leaves and goes to the coffee terminal, picked her cup and sips through it in the lung-polluting venue called smoking area.  Seemingly utterly pissed with the lack of attention, she browses through her phone in an agitated movement.

There seemed to be no one except for those two groups I mentioned who showed interest in picking a conversation with a live audience.  Perhaps it was because they were tired, hungry or simply unconcerned.  But no, they were with some concern.  Deep in conversation with people in a distance through their cellular phones yet unmindful of those who were just within touching distance.

How our lifestyles have changed since the advent of a cell phone.  Much as I see its merits, for it does facilitate a lot of business transactions or appointment changes, the cellphone has robbed us of interpersonal moments when we can talk face to face, substantially.

Research shows that people are up at 7:31 in the morning, checking their phones and facebook before they even stand up from bed.  An average user uses his cellphone at least 1500 times in a week and use their phones at least three hours and sixteen minutes a day.  And we are still talking about the average user.  How much more the heavy users? 

As communication has become so accessible and affordable, more and more people connect to each other without really connecting.  They speak but they do not talk.  They talk but they do not converse deeply.  They talk with anybody and with everybody but they do not really know these people.  Not really.

An advertisement showed a man in the midst of a busy street straddling his bike while reading the text on his phone, and a couple in a date with their attention on their phones until they had to text each other to remind the other that they were together.  Ironic! 

At home kids are more with their gadgets than sharing quality time with mom and dad because mom and dad are also glued to their own gadgets.  Accidents happen because people are preoccupied with their phones to even look where they are going or what they are doing.  There is a reduced face to face communication

In an article by Mark Glaser he describes how smartphones are slowly killing face-to-face communication.  He observed “So it’s unfortunate that real-life interactions are on the outs as cell phone conversations, texting, instant messaging and Facebook emails start to take up more of our time. For young people especially, having a cell phone or iPod in hand and at the ready is the default mode while walking the streets. That means much less chance of conversation with the people who populate their real lives.”

In the same article he quoted Cynthia Brumfield who “ describes her own gadget haze in a great post on IP Democracy. She was plugged into her iPhone on a recent flight and had no memory of what happened around her for hours and hours:

 Then it hit me: being constantly connected to gadgets is akin to what psychologists called a dissociative disorder. Dissociation generally means not being connected and in its extreme form is the hallmark of true mental illness…Based on my recent experience, [I wonder] if we’re all making ourselves slightly mentally ill by tuning in and dropping out (and not in the good ’60s kind of way either).”

 People have lost their relationships, their jobs and even their own ability to keep conversations because of  being always on the phone, texting.

 This is dangerous.  One day, we may just lose the use of our tongue.  For as they said, if you don’t use it, you may lose it. Uh-oh!

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