Arse about Facebook!

I was sitting in the hospital waiting room waiting for an x-ray. Nothing serious, except the boredom. I’d read the stuff I’d brought with me, read some dire women’s magazines. Flicked through Yachting World and Caravan Monthly neither of which I do. So sat and people watched.

What used to be a fun thing to do with the kids seemed suddenly incredibly sad. Not because they’re not with me anymore, but because the parents and kids in the waiting room were sitting next to each other like strangers. No communication with each other whatsoever. And that was because of mobile phones.

There was a girl with her arm in a sling – mum was gabbing on the phone to a friend. A boy with his foot in plaster – both his folks were on phones, either gaming or on the Web. The only people talking to one another were two older folks who looked like they’d been together since we thought the earth was flat, yet still had something to say to one another.

Sometimes I worry we’re so busy connecting to someone who isn’t there, or posting drivel on the Web, we forget to connect to our loved ones sitting right beside us.

Sometimes I think phones and the Net are less a means of connecting to a wider group, but more of a means for parents to ignore their kids.

I don’t know whether it’s a spin off from home educating, or whether I’m just old fashioned, but we always engaged with our kids when we were out. In fact the last time my youngest (she was 18 at the time) and I had to sit in the doctor’s waiting room together we had great fun giggling together over ‘position of the week’ in a chat mag. (I’ll leave that to your imagination). It made a dull visit very entertaining I can tell you. In fact when we went back next time we looked for the following issue!

Wherever we went we chatted about stuff; concerns, things we saw, people’s behaviour (good social lessons to be had with that one). Because observing and talking with your child are valuable approaches to furthering their education. Sometimes, of course, we were just companionably quiet. But we were never disengaged with one another because we were busy with others, elsewhere.

Anyway, freed from the waiting room I had then to go sit in a lonely little cubicle with my clothes off and a hideous gown on. Those cubicles reminded me of what I’d just seen in the waiting room; parents in virtual cubicles even though they were sitting next to their children.

As I sat there, a crack in the curtain and a mirror on the wall opposite reflected another cubicle further down the corridor. Inside, a pallid old lady sagged in one corner with her eyes shut looking worryingly like she might never communicate with anyone again. But just as I thought I’d break out my cubicle and go talk to her they called me through for x-ray.

So off I went. But, as I found out later, I had my arse hanging out not having done my gown up at the back.

And it’s just struck me that those people I watched not communicating in the waiting room, would probably be the sort of people to take a snap picture of my backside and post it all over Facebook.

Yet they could not be bothered to make conversation with the child sat next to them.

Is it just me who thinks this is somehow incredible sad?

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15 thoughts on “Arse about Facebook!

  1. I found this interesting as we often look like what you described here. We live on the Isle of Wight and often on Ferry journeys off the Islnad we are an engaged family usually taking advantage of the time to play cards together – we clearly can give a good impression as a social worker on a ferry trip once came over and said to us “I don’t know what you are doing but it is clearly working keep at it , it is lovely to see a family functioning so well”. However when we are on the way home again we are usually completely exhausted and everyone will be being very individualistic probably plugged into a Radio 4 podcast, curled up with a kindle or dosing – then we all look very unengaged with each other!

  2. Yes, it is incredibly sad. Technology is a wonderful thing but it needs to be used in moderation and applied wisely. I think technology shows people up for who they always were – there are trolls but there are also some pretty magnificent human beings out there (the majority if my experiences are anything to go by) that would never have connected and done good in the world were it not for social networking sites. I have the biggest ‘Real Life’ social circle I’ve ever had and I’m doing something that I think is really meaningful with my life, and it all started with people I met online! Haha.

  3. Yes I notice it too. And I find it frustrating when I’m with adult company and trying to have a conversation, while being constantly interrupted by their mobile phone or their need to respond to a facebook message or a tweet.

    But then sometimes I’m guilty too…needing to ‘just send that text’ or ‘get this email off’ or ‘check out soemthing on the web’ and before I know it an hour has gone and small child who was tapping on my shoulder has given up waiting for whatever it was they wanted to do with me!

    I think we’re fortunate to have experienced life before email and mobile phones and to still have that in mind. But how quickly our lives get taken over by – and rely on – all this tech.

  4. My husband and I say whenever we are out to dinner with our kids we see families just sitting there not talking but on their phones mini gaming systems, tablets etc. our kids would love to have and Itouch or ipad but they don’t because we want them to stay engaged with the world. It’s not just you I also find this sad.

  5. Oh, Ross. Yes, a sad but true observation. We too were in the x-ray waiting room last week & observed much the same thing! Although Gman wasn’t talking to us either – but that *was* because he was reading. A real, actual, paper book 🙂
    ps/ the title of this blog post is brilliant!

  6. No it’s not just you Ross – I think the same. I see it all the time when I’m on the train – little kids are ignored whilst their parents are texting or something on their ‘phones. The kids start playing up after a while and the parents have the cheek to tell them off.

  7. Not just you, Ross. It is sad! Loved this post and the juxtaposition off the isolation in the cubicle and the cut off parents.

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