31 August 2008

Being where we aren't

I saw this photo of Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin and her (or her daughter's?) five-month old baby this morning and my heart just squinched up.

Some other people had posted it with "This is what feminism looks like!" excitedly, and I really had to stop and think why this photo made me feel so sad.

I mean, moms should be able to work, right? And they shouldn't have to think of their children every single minute, I can see that. Women have always had to multitask.

I wondered "Would I have felt the same way if it was a working mom in another situation, say, a mom with a baby in a rebozo, selling food at a market?" I don't think so. Seeing her texting made me feel sad.

There is something to me unique about mobile devices - and I HAVE a Blackberry - because it takes so much attention and takes us so completely away from the present moment. The temptation to check the damned thing is always with us.

I feel sad that mobile devices are running our lives. We don't have the patience or discipline to leave them alone. I have had so many frustrating, trying times with friends, feeling like I have to compete for their attention with their phone/device. Even if we are together, we aren't really together because they are always pulled elsewhere by little beeps and tones.

Just the other day, in a lunch group of six, someone took a call right in the middle of the meal, at the table. It wasn't an important call, just one of those "Where are you, honey? Oh, I'm at lunch" calls. Totally unnecessary and it interrupted the whole conversation and messed with the group dynamic. It is normal to many people, but to me it is still quite rude.

I don't think the sadness that came up when I saw this photo is about moms working while holding babies. It is more about how this technology has invaded our lives, and how easy it is to get carried away by it, and how much we miss out on when we do.


thailandchani said...

You are so right! I have a cell phone and it is turned off most of the time until somehow it comes into my consciousness that I want to use it. All of this digital connection (which is so illusory anyway) really has consumed too much life energy for most people.

Not saying everyone should be a Luddite like me - but keeping it in perspective would be a good idea.


Mandajuice said...

I am so glad you posted this explanation! I didn't comment earlier because I had nothing nice to say except that your initial reaction this morning really had me fuming. I (wrongly, obviously) assumed that your issue was the working mother thing, not the cell phone thing, so thanks for the clarification. You can keep your feminist badge after all!

I am both a mother AND an iPhone addict, but I'm honestly looking forward to the day I can text by kids from the office. It's not perfect, but it'll be a modern version of "quality time."

Anonymous said...

I completely agree. I get fuming mad every morning when I'm driving to work (just driving, mind you, not distracting myself with gadgets) and everyone around me in the cars, on the sidewalks, etc. is on the phone. It's their business if they want to talk, of course, when they're so distracted that they turn into my lane or walk right in front of my car so I have to slam on the breaks -- NOT JUST THEIR BUSINESS ANYMORE.

Last weekend we visited my MIL and at the restaurant for lunch there were TWO different women on the phone in the restroom. In the stall. How gross is that?

Personally, I'm happy to have my phone, but just to rely on in emergencies. There's no one I need to talk to so badly that it can't wait 5 minutes while I'm in the bathroom.

Anonymous said...

I was walking in the park recently and there was a young woman sitting on a bench with an infant on her back, a toddler in a stroller with a puppy leashed to the stroller, and a 4- or 5-year old attempting to play alone on one of those spinny pieces of equipment that requires someone to push it, otherwise it's just a platform. And the woman was just texting away like there was no tomorrow. When I made the loop of the park and passed them again about 45 minutes later, it was the exact same scene. I probably could have walked up, stolen the puppy and kidnapped all the children including the one on her back and she never would have noticed. Sad.

meno said...

I spent the weekend watching men pull out their latest devices to see who's was bigger, and then spend the next several minutes hunched over them admiring their utility.

It's a scene i'm heartily sick of.

mar said...

last night i chastised s after we left game night at a friends' place because he spent 45 minutes texting someone. another friend brought her coworker & she was texting, but i didn't know the girl & she only knew 1 person there, so i didn't feel quite as strongly about it, but i still found it rude.
i try not to answer my phone when i'm in specific situations.

Green-Eyed Momster said...

I think I'm the last person on Earth without a cell phone or a blackberry! Everyone else has one and they don't know how to function without them. My job is in customer service and it's hard to do my job when half of the people in my store are on the phone. What did they ever do before the cell or blackberry?


Anonymous said...

Delurking here. I said much of the same eons ago when cell phones were on the verge--that these very devices, designed to save us time, would soon rob us of it. That is why I don't give out my cell number. I miss the days when a drive in the car was time to think, converse, decompress, etc.

Anonymous said...

I am positively humiliated for someone when they pull out their phone and start texting in the middle of a dinner conversation. I would go on, but most people I know are tired of my rants about it.

But really, how sad is it that you would rather text someone who is somewhere else than enjoy what's right in front of you? And how insulting is it to the person who is deliberately spending time with you?

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