By Taylor Wolf | Social Media Editor
Some of the most annoying things to me are 1) trying to talk to someone but not getting their attention because they have earbuds in or 2) walking and having to dodge people who are enslaved by their phone screen instead of the path ahead. While some may argue that it is an introvert-extrovert issue, I think it goes deeper than that.
Regardless of the reasonings, observing people refuse to be a part of a public space by completely ignoring everyone in it just kind of breaks my heart a little. It feels like the world has gotten to a point where people don’t even care to be present in the moment anymore. In fact, public downtime is often treated as a burden. Some would rather take the easy, yet often rude, route and engross themselves in their hand-held, individually curated digital world than chance uncomfortable silence or idleness.
I am guilty of this too, sometimes. I also totally get needing to focus on a phone-based conversation or needing to just listen to music once in awhile – I do both occasionally. What I don’t understand is how blocking out the world while in public has become a total norm.
As cliché as it sounds, I found myself missing things and forgetting to appreciate my surroundings when I am walking, waiting or working somewhere. Something I actively try to do now is to look up from my phone and take out my earbuds when walking to another building on campus. Honestly, it can feel a little awkward just looking around at people and your environment when just walking, but it’s because we’re so used to having something to look at or do on our phones. Also, it’s become creepy to be in public spaces and just look around or make awkward eye contact with strangers, which is crazy. That should just be part of life.
I’ve started forcing myself to stay off my phone in check-out lines and put it in my pocket when walking somewhere, regardless of how awkward it can feel. Just choosing to observe life and the people living it with you for even the brief moment your paths cross is challenging, yet sometimes refreshing.
It can provoke good moments of reflection and appreciation for life. Sometimes, it’s even can be fun randomly connecting with someone because of the words on their hat that you commented on because you’re from the same city. It can also just be peaceful or funny listening to the sounds of life being lived or nature doing its thing.
This concept of people shutting out the world by constantly being on their phone or having earbuds in has always bothered me in some way, however, it’s amplified recently because of the realization that my time on campus will end soon. Regardless of being super excited to graduate, I do want to try and appreciate the time I have here. I want to remember what it looked, sounded and felt like walking around or just being present on campus and in Waco. I don’t just want to just remember my phone, my own thoughts and qualms with the world and the people in it who annoy me. That’s just not a way I want to live, and I hope other people don’t either.
We all live here together. We all play a part in the energies and atmospheres we’re a part of. So, get out of your own head sometimes, take out your earbuds, put your phone away when you’re waiting on your coffee, make eye contact with strangers and listen. Be present. We’re not here very long.