Live, Don't Document

Which side are you on?  Texting at the table or not?  Taking a call while eating dinner or should that be forbidden?  According to a recent study, 84 percent of Americans say both are a no-no, and 87 percent say never, with guests.  Yet, why do we still see so many people doing it?

Out to dinner not long ago, we sat near a couple, so intent on their smartphones, they only spoke to the waiter, telling him what they wanted. 

Sherry Turkle writes today at The New York Times that we are so busy documenting our lives, with our selfies and blogs and Facebook posts about everything we do from brushing our teeth to listening to certain songs to what we ate for dinner (who cares?), that we don't live.  

Turkle says we just don't talk any more.  "We interrupt conversations for documentation all the time," she writes. Or worse, observe.  Reflect.  Think.

"A selfie, like any photograph, interrupts experience to mark the moment. In this, it shares something with all the other ways we break up our day, when we text during class, in meetings, at the theater, at dinners with friends," she adds and goes on to say that technology "doesn’t just do things for us. It does things to us, changing not just what we do but who we are. The selfie makes us accustomed to putting ourselves and those around us 'on pause' in order to document our lives."

When you get accustomed to a life of stops and starts, you get less accustomed to reflecting on where you are and what you are thinking, she says.  "We don’t experience interruptions as disruptions anymore."

But these interruptions -- from texts and Instagram and Facebook -- "make it hard to settle into serious conversations with ourselves and with other people because emotionally, we keep ourselves available to be taken away from everything."

I think of the people I know who feel it's important to share photos of themselves getting Christmas trees or eating a huge plate of spaghetti, or displaying their child's certificate for good behavior or for running outside to get the mail.  Yes, it's sometimes nice to know what our friends are doing, but do we really need to know -- and see -- that haircut from the name salon?

I suppose I sound like a Scrooge -- and I find myself doing it, too -- but when are we going to get back to living, not just recording, our lives?  


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