Are we ever really in the moment anymore?

Out of the Moment

While driving home one weekend, I noticed something odd inside the truck traveling next to me.  Inside the silver Ford Ranger a family of 3 sat next to one another in the front seat of the truck’s cab.  Now, 3 people traveling together in the front seat of a truck is hardly odd, but what fascinated me is how each individual was connected to their own electronic device.  The older man sitting next to the passenger window had a laptop open, the young boy in the middle wore oversized headphones connected to a portable game device, and even the driver wore white headphones.  This group of three was crammed inside the small cab of their pick-up truck, touching shoulder to shoulder, but they seemed completely disconnected from one another.  What's even more fascinating is thinking about how the woman driving, the two-ton truck was also disconnected.  The scene inside of the Ford Ranger may not strike many as odd.  Today virtually everyone has a cellphone or some portable electronic device on their person.  But, this realization brought me to ponder.With us constantly being attached to our technology, are we ever really in the moment anymore?


Recently, I attended a wedding where I brought my digital camera.  I intended to capture a few shots and share them with the bride and groom as a considerate gesture.  I found myself behind the camera almost the entire night.  When the wedding was over, I realized I had almost no memory of that night.  All I could recall is snapping pictures.  I reflected on why it was that I had spent so much time behind the camera and I realized I wasn't comfortable at the wedding.I knew few of the people there and found it easy to avoid talking when I was behind the camera.  I wonder how my experience may have been different if I never brought the camera at all.  Maybe I could have connected with the strangers around me and even made some new friends.  My fiancé, who was my date, barely got one dance in with me.  Maybe I could have left that night taking with me a happy memory rather than a camera full of pictures of a couple I barely knew.


After the experience with the Ford Ranger and the wedding I found myself paying more attention to people around me on their technology.  I entered a local Starbucks and while waiting in line for my coffee I took notice of the people around me.  A little over half a dozen people were sitting down inside the cafe.  Everyone was either on a laptop, tablet, or their phone and almost all had headphones on.  I realized how much I’d grown accustomed to the scene inside the Starbucks, but I began thinking about the implications of what was going on around me.  Inside that Starbucks people had chosen to go out in public and sit down to have coffee rather than sit in their homes.  This choice would seem to imply that one would want to interact with people around them and enjoy the savory drink of their choice.  Sure, they may have just wanted to get out of the house and enjoy the company of the public around them.  But then I realized how hard it was to make eye contact with anyone.  After ordering my coffee, I sat down and smiled saying “good-morning” to the gentlemen sitting next to me and he awkwardly looked back down as if he didn’t hear me.  Looking back at the line everyone had their phone out and stared blankly at their screens, scrolling with their thumbs, mouth shut tight.

As I sat waiting for my order I was suddenly alerted by the barista impatiently shouting my name, “Last call for Paul!”  I stood up, tucked my phone into my pocket, and went to pick up my order.  The barista announced, “Here you are Paul, thought I lost you there for a minute.”

Submitted: August 08, 2013

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