Electronic Incivility Takes the Stage
Following an evening at the theater I captured my observations. Can you relate?
Opening night. Full house. Palpable anticipation.
The lights were dimmed.
Like junkies rigging their final fix before entering rehab, the theatergoers reluctantly powered down their electronic devices. Yet, mere seconds into the performance, the predictable whimper of a lone cell phone echoed through the otherwise still atmosphere.
Before a second pair of hands had the opportunity to touch one another in applause following the first act, the addicts—who had been twitching throughout—found their buttons of calmness and turned their electronic soothers back on.
Sipping on wine in the lobby they stared at tiny handheld screens through glazed eyes while they filled their souls with useless hits of virtual importance. Their restlessness subsided as they scrolled through uninvited digital trash and geared up for the real thing…a hard core message from work.
Ahh, the connection was so sweet when the throbbing vein of corporate cash flow was falsely filled with the basic human instinct of feeling needed. A feeling so deeply skewed that it couldn’t possibly be met by the person they had attended the play with. That would require actual conversation. But when their thumbs glided over the keyboard of pseudo-communication they were bold enough to say anything.
Wireless words are pre-loaded with false confidence that riddle our society with incivility. And, packed into bullets labeled send, we fire them off quicker than a machine gun doing double duty in a winless war.
Cell phones limp alongside in a losing battle to provide us with the means to at least try to speak with one another. We get nervous at the thought of being alone, so we randomly dial numbers to find someone—anyone—who will bail us out of isolation and guard us from loneliness, even if just for a second. Hollow conversations provide smokescreens for our plummeting ability to absorb our surroundings and ponder deep, necessary thoughts.
The superficiality of it all is a signal that we decline to acknowledge. Because doing so would make our misunderstanding of what we’ve created too real. So, wrapping the tourniquet of distraction around our arms we reach for another sense-numbing injection of electronic solace.
And somehow, through it all, the show must go on.
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