I’m in the waiting room of my physiotherapists office. I am casually looking at my phone, as we just launched the meet and greet contests for Katy Perry in South-America and I want to make sure everything goes well. An older couple is sitting next to me. The man is checking his phone as well. It is all good. I never feel the need to talk to people in waiting rooms. Before you know it, they will tell you their entire life story, or worse, that of their entire family. I have made that mistake before. One smile can be enough to have Betty tell you all about the gossip that goes on at her weekly bingo club.
An old lady stumbles in. She is supported by a walker, which she uses as a chair. She smiles at everybody. I smile back and turn my attention back to my phone again. “I think it is so awful,” she starts, and I know where this is going. It is not the first time that older people in this very waiting room have said the same thing. “that people are on their phones all the time. In my day we used to talk to each other. Now all people do is stare at their phones!”
I agree. Everywhere you go people do stare at their smartphones. It is a perfect way to pass the time when you are in a train or waiting in a waiting room. I do agree that people who check their phones in a restaurant while their date is sitting opposite them is very rude. However, despite the fact that I am very social at times, there are also many times when I prefer not to be social. While I am waiting to be tortured by my physiotherapist for example. Yes, everything used to be better in the old days but as an ambivert person, I greatly appreciate the fact that when my introvert side shows up, I can just pretend to have better things to do than talk about the weather.
People complain a lot about smartphones. Especially older people. They have a point now and then, but they don’t see the good things that technology has brought us. For me the most important thing is that via this phone, I am connected to the entire world. I have friends from all over the place and wherever I am, I can just send them a message and we are connected. When I am lost, it only takes a simple internet connection for me to find my way again. When I am in a heated discussion, I just have to google to prove my point (and if I am wrong, I just slowly put my phone back in my pocket and pretend it never happened).
Even though sometimes I wish I could go back to the days where I wasn’t constantly online, I don’t think I could miss the pros of the internet and smartphones. It has opened up the world to us all and it is sad that only the downsides of it are mentioned.
I smiled at the old lady, as she stared at me, expecting me to immediately put my phone away. I shrugged and looked back at my phone until my physiotherapist came to get me. After all, for everything that was better in the old days, there was something that was way worse. So yes, elderly people, we check our phones a lot. But please do not blame us. We just want to connect to the world outside our small town.