Thursday, while flying to a quilt retreat, I realized what a “distracted” culture I live in.
The “Flight of Distraction”
I am joining some quilting friends this weekend on a retreat they are attending.
Originally I had planned not to attend this retreat (I was trying to “watch my pennies”) however after writing the post Live. Love. Laugh. I started thinking that given all the craziness in the world, it is important to keep fun time with friends in my life.
This retreat is located in a place I fondly call “South Canada” (northern Washington State) so to save 8+ hours of driving each way, I treated myself and booked a flight to the retreat. On the flight, I had an intense realization how distracted in general we are from the world around us. At least in my little part of the world.
As I boarded the plane and walked down the aisle to find my seat, I noticed how most of the passengers were entranced by their smartphones – some talking on their phones, but most of them texting or playing games on their phones.
If it was not a smartphone, then they had an iPad on and were staring at and interacting with the screen. Few people were talking to their companions or introducing themselves to the passenger next to them.
I found my aisle seat and greeted the gentleman who was in the window seat, as we would be flying together for the next hour. He barely mumbled hello to me and went back to watching a movie on his iPad.
As the aircraft doors closed and the plane began to taxi, the flight attendants began their flight safety instructions. They asked the passengers to turn their attention to the flight attendant giving the instructions, and it seems NO ONE but myself looked up at the flight attendant.
My fellow passenger was deep in his movie. The children seated in front of me were playing iPad games. Their father to the aisle seat right of them, had a movie on his iPad AND was playing solitaire on his smartphone!
(Side note: I remember when you had to put away your phone and your tablet for take off until the plane reached a certain altitude. However those rules were lifted and now you can keep these devices out during taxing and take off as long as you have them in “airplane mode”. I think having to put away the devices for a while used to encourage people to just lay back and relax or read for a while.)
As everyone on the plane appeared to have headphones on, it was unlikely that they could hear the flight attendant’s instructions. The flight attendant on the PA system giving the flight safety instructions could have said:
“You will experience some initial nausea during interdimensional time travel as your molecules quickly separate and then reassemble”.
I had brought a library book to read on the flight. I remember the day when most people had a book. magazine or newspaper they were reading on a flight. I love reading a book on a plane and then nodding off into a delicious little nap. The best “flight naps” are when you wake up and you are nearly at your destination.
While reading my book, Crafting the Personal Essay : A Guide to Writing and Publishing Creative Nonfiction (Dinty W. Moore, 2010) I came across this statement that seemed very appropriate to my current experience on the “Flight of Distraction”:
In our highly visual culture – television, movies, videos on iPad – it is important to remember just how magical good writing can be. – Dinty W. Moore
Note this publication date of the book was 2010. We are even more distracted in 2016!
An Important Reminder
The room I am staying in at the quilting retreat is decorated in modern decor and has “chalkboard” style art. One of the chalkboard-style wall decorations has a saying that really resonated with me given my “Flight of Distraction” experience:
I have people in my life, who I adore, but when I am with them, I am also with their phone. Their phone is always the other person in the room with us, they are listening for and checking their texts. It seems as if my company is not enough for them.
I try to make an effort that my phone is not an extra person in the room. When I am hanging out with you, I am with you, not with my phone. If I am expecting an important phone call, I might let my companion know but I do not check (or listen for texts) when hanging out with friends.
There is more going on in life then on the smartphone or tablet. (Now do not get me started on how I feel about people walking around and texting without looking up at their surroundings…)