Sunday, May 22, 2022

Looking Down - The Small Screen Dilemma


Opinion by:   

E. Eugene Webb PhD 

If you glance around today you will probably notice most people are looking down.

It doesn't matter if they're sitting in a waiting room, riding in the car, riding on the bus, sitting at Starbucks, sitting on a park bench or sitting in their office. Even when they're walking they're looking down.

Most of us spend the vast majority of our time looking down.

It used to be we spent most of our time looking up. We were glancing around looking at our surroundings looking at the people walking by. Today, we spend almost all of our looking time looking down looking at the cell phone, the iPad, and in very rare occasion’s we may actually be reading a book.

The problem with looking down, is simply you don't see what's going on around you.

We are becoming the generation that gets all of their information from a small screen provided by a small group of people and almost always totally and completely biased.

I'm guilty. And as much as I hate to admit it I don't spend nearly enough time on my backyard patio watching the birds, going to an art gallery and looking at the paintings or walking through a mall and enjoying the people and the window displays.

We are a generation of screen mongers. And as our screens have become more delicious with multiple and vibrant colors, exciting graphics, high resolution videos our attention is universally drawn to the small screen.

The small screen invites us into a small world.

It’s a world manipulated by those who control social media. And, maybe to some degree by the people who provide social media content. People like me, bloggers, Facebook posters, Twitter users, those on Tic/Tock and many others.

I think the real issue with looking down is we lose our perspective. 

Things like a horrific war in the Ukraine are reduced to the small screen and they don't seem like such a big deal sometimes. Inflation, a really big deal, again reduced to the small screen with some charts from the stock market, some bar graphs going up or down depending on what point the writer is trying to make but still reduced to a small screen where visually very interesting but I think in many cases their impact is minimized.

I walked into the breakfast area of a road motel this week, and there was a woman sitting at a table with a bowl of cereal, a cup of coffee and her cell phone laying beside the bowl. She was looking intently at the cell phone, didn't notice me as I walked by and rarely looked at her cereal as she took bite after bite. 

It's surprising how easy it is to get immersed in the small world of looking down.

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