Cellphone zombies walk among us. You see them everywhere.
You see them everywhere. At the grocery store, at the movies, at the restaurants, playgrounds – even walking across busy streets.
You know the look – no rotting flesh or missing ears and lips – but vacant, oblivious, and impervious nevertheless. For these zombies, the real world does not exist. No, their world is in the palm of their hands. They're Facebooking, Tweeting and texting. They are not reading about world-changing events taking shape in the Ukraine and Iraq on their smartphone. No, they're following Lady Gaga on Twitter, posting pictures of their summer holiday on their Facebook page, and texting their buddies what they had for lunch. It's like their world has come down to, well, their world.
Should we, as a society, care? The answer is an emphatic yes. Not only is this indicative of the dumbing down of society (not to mention a colossal time waster), the zombies might just represent a true danger to the rest of us.
It may not rank up there with fire or the wheel, but the cellphone is arguably one of the most groundbreaking recent inventions of humankind, next to the Internet itself. It allows for endless communication, in addition to giving us access to the seemingly infinite power of the Internet, regardless of where we are (as long as there is cellphone service, which is abundant today). Travel to any corner of the globe and while the residents may not have decent housing, you can be sure most are carrying their cell. The world's knowledge is available in the palm of the hand, so, it might be argued, is the often unfortunate but irresistible urge to see who gets the most Facebook likes and most followers on Twitter. People seem addicted to their phones and respond like Pavlov's dogs to the “plunk” sound when a text arrives.
This addiction has serious consequences for the rest of us. Cellphone zombies are incapable of multitasking. While they're zoned out on their phones, many of them still attempt to drive down St. Albert Trail. Others attempt to dawdle their way across sidewalk crossings on Giroux Road. To see a new mom or dad staring at their cells while their ignored kids stagger around the playground, like mini-zombies, uninvolved in human interaction, is shameful. Not only are these parents missing out on a joyful experience, they are teaching their kids by example about what is really important – not them.
It is incongruous that a tool so powerful, capable of so much, is being used for mind-numbing purposes. Social media has its uses, but ironically it may be eroding our collective social skills. No longer do we have to physically interact when a text will do the trick. We don't have to interpret body language or tone. We don't have to look someone in the eye. We don't have to carry on a conversation. The smartphone is transforming us. And it's spreading like a zombie plague.
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