Jonathan Wright


People on their phones—everywhere.


And I mean everywhere.

It hit me with full force, with shocking clarity, a couple of weeks ago as my sons and I were leaving a local restaurant. I really shouldn’t have been surprised—but it seemed so surreal as to appear to be something deliberately staged.

As I scanned the restaurant while heading for the exit—and believe me: I’m not exaggerating—nearly every single person was looking down at his or her phone. Few were conversing. Nearly all were engaged in their phones.

It was really difficult to find a table where most of the occupants were not staring down at their electronic gizmos.

I was so taken aback by this striking observation that I couldn’t help comment about it to the hostess at the front door as we left. Her response was one of polite resignation: yes, she had noticed it too, and yes, it’s very typical these days.

I might add that it’s beyond simply typical—it’s getting worse.

A lot worse.

Is this what it’s come to?

When’s the last time you sat down in a restaurant, waiting room, or some other public place and didn’t see multiple patrons fooling with those controlling, demanding electronic devices that seemingly run our lives?

It’s become nothing less than an epidemic. Nearly everywhere you go, at least half of the people are robotically staring down at their handheld devices while paying very little attention to their surroundings.

This is not a good picture.

I miss the days when people in a restaurant had nothing else to do than look at the other people at their table and talk to them.

I miss the days when people in a waiting room at a doctor’s office or hospital read magazines or softly talked to people around them.

I miss the days when people walked past each other on the sidewalk with heads up and actually greeted each other.

What makes all this even more disturbing is the extreme likelihood that there’s no turning back. Society is hopelessly and shamelessly hooked on these irresistible devices, and you know as well as I do that they’re likely here to stay.

To put it simply—yet hopelessly—I guess we’ll just have to live with them.

Maybe next week I’ll have something more encouraging to discuss. This certainly doesn’t fit that bill.

Life is too short to be staring down all the time. Look up. Look around. Enjoy the world around you. Be liberated from that despotic, never-satisfied device in your hand.

Start living again.

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