A couple of weeks ago, I was coming out of Target and had the privilege of watching an oversized SUV as it ran into the front of my car. I stopped in the middle of the street, my arms outstretched in the universal pose of “what the frick was that?” as the couple exited from their grand vehicle, not giving my poor car another glance. Granted, it was a hit to my bumper and only pushed the car back slightly, but it was still a hit to my car. As they passed by me, oblivious, I asked them if they gave a crap that they just hit my car. The man looked at me and said “it didn’t beep. My car always beeps before it hits something, and it didn’t beep.” I’m sure my facial features twisted incredulously as I asked “okay, you didn’t hear it, but did you feel it?” His companion piped up that she felt it, but he wouldn’t answer.
I was dumbfounded for about two seconds, contemplating how many things this man must hit that he relies simply on auditory tones to alert him to when he’s being a poor driver. I understand that this feature is something manufacturers are installing in newer models, but since I haven’t owned a model later than 2004, my main luxury is a CD player. I’m out of the loop when it comes to super cool options. Regardless, I was overwhelmed by the lack of concern: no beep, no hit. He did walk back over to my car with me to assess if there was any damage. There wasn’t. He apologized. I got in my car and found myself repeating “no beep, no hit,” and cackled with the high pitched bursts of laughter of someone who might be teetering a bit too close to the edge.
When did we become so dulled to our surroundings? We have an app for everything now that alerts as to what’s going on in our world. We can set alarms, find a place to eat, schedule appointments, store loads of information in our phones – the list of what these miracles of technology can do is extensive. Even in NYC, the busiest place I’ve ever experienced, everyone walking down the street is glued to their phones. I wonder when Apple will install an app called “you’re gonna run into that person if you don’t look up from your phone” which will emit a long, obnoxious beep before you crash into another human being.
Everyone in my immediate circle is guilty. We all love our phones. We read, play games, check news, etc. They are awesome! I once forgot my phone at home for an entire day and I felt lost. My life seemed to be empty without my little electronic nugget of support. But what are we losing in translation? By keeping our eyes trained on the little electronic blob that probably causes cancer, we miss out on so much. We’re becoming insensitive. And I think we’re angrier. Sure, we have the whole world electronically at our finger tips, but we’re ignoring life.
While email and blogging and facebook have been instrumental in keeping people updated on Ben, it comes with a certain price. It seems that everyone has an opinion and people feel safe when they’re hiding behind their keyboards. It gives them the ability to say really horrible and hurtful things. Sometimes from a simple misunderstanding, but other times because people can simply be turds. I was recently reading an article about a Texan hiking a technical climb in Colorado. He slipped and fell quite a ways and he died. The comments on the article ranged from “I’m so sorry for his family” (appropriate) to “That’s what a Texan gets when he comes to Colorado.” (Super inappropriate)
Who on earth finds that sort of statement okay to put out there? Now, I have a weird sense of humor, and sometimes my meaning is lost in translation, but a statement like that is simply cruel. It reminds me of a time when I first started blogging and someone posted, “I hope your son dies.” I stared at that comment for a long time, wondering what kind of person would say such a thing. Thankfully, comments like that are few and far between, but they still happen. One dude castigated me after Ben’s MIBG story aired on the news… he was insistent that weed was the answer and I was too ignorant and “scared of weed” to know that I could save my son’s life with marijuana. Now, anyone who knows me well enough knows my stance is in high support of medical marijuana, but it is not the answer for Ben. I know that. His doctors know that. This tool who was so sure of my ignorance doesn’t know that. The internet has created a lot of “self-made experts,” but it hasn’t taught them any freaking manners. And while I take all of their comments with a grain of salt, I have to understand that opening our lives up to the general public like this puts us at risk of running into some big time crazies. I know I need a thicker skin.
But people also need to learn some flipping manners instead of simply waiting for their app to tell them what to do next.