A pitch for peripheral vision beyond tech

Posted

Ah, technology. The wonders that we can do with these marvelous little devices we all haul around in our pockets. Of course, if you’re a teenage girl, they’re not really in your pocket, are they? They’re more like protruding out your back side, precariously pinched into the tiny space that passes for a back pocket in your short shorts, waiting at any minute to either go flying to freedom or be crushed under you when you sit down, forgetful of its presence.

(sigh) And why, you might ask, do I have time to ruminate about things such as this? Well, because, at the moment, I’m sitting in a parking lot, my turn signal ticking away, waiting for the person who got into her car six minutes ago to finally pull out of the parking spot and go on her merry way. But no! First she has to check her email, text messages, Facebook updates, and pose for a selfie in front of her two bags of groceries she just emerged from the Safeway with, as if surviving the grueling test of fortitude that is the supermarket is worthy of a digital victory lap.

Perhaps that’s being too harsh. I suppose it’s also entirely possible that, before she headed home, she had to ask her phone to map the route.

The technology at play in many of these devices is truly exceptional, but I fear that we — and, when I say “we,” I mean people younger than me — have become too reliant on it, and that it may be making us, well, for lack of a better word, dumb.

I kid about the unfathomable need of teenagers to have access to all of their friends’ thoughts at all times; I poke fun at the person who feels the need to get completely updated on their little world before they can pull out of a parking spot. But the whole “selfie” thing makes me think that youth’s natural gravitation towards self-centeredness is taking a twisted leap off a cliff into an abyss of narcissism, and the inability to discover even the most rudimentary of processes (like finding a route home) without a cell phone’s assistance is disturbing.

But, unfortunately, all of this has a dangerous element to it, as well. The other day, I observed an attractive young lady walk out of a place of business in a neighborhood that she was unfamiliar with, and which was, perhaps, of questionable safety. This young lady was less than 10 feet from the exit to the property before she was in her phone, and walked the 300 yards to her car without once looking up to check on her surroundings.

My friend Jay teaches women’s self defense, and the NUMBER ONE thing he teaches is situational awareness — know what’s going on around you. A person, no matter how vulnerable physically, can almost always stay out of, or get out of, trouble if they see it coming. This young lady would have had no idea if someone was sneaking up behind her, if someone had broken into her car, or if somebody was juggling chainsaws right in her path. Zero awareness.

Young ladies, piece of advice: put the phones down and look at the world around you as you go through it.

And, by the way, don’t worry about that young lady — she was my daughter, and I was “stalking” her because she was in an unfamiliar neighborhood, and wanted some backup for her first trip there. If you doubt me, I took a selfie of the whole incident ...