That was interesting. I made an unplanned trip to Starbucks at lunch the other day. I didn’t have my phone, a newspaper, book or magazine, or a pen and piece of paper. There was nothing to do but sit there while I sipped my latte and nibbled on a blueberry bar.
I contemplated asking the guy a few tables over for a piece of his newspaper, but it was a tabloid, so he would have had to pull it apart. Not ideal. I could have asked the barrista to lend me a pen and a piece of paper, as I have done before.
But this time I just sat. And thought. And looked at everyone in the store with their head buried in a laptop or phone or newspaper. No-one but me in the entire joint just sitting, looking around, thinking, wondering when the last time was that I had just sat and thought. It felt so awkward. MY GOD. I’M NOT DOING ANYTHING!
What’s up with that? (Well, technically I was drinking a coffee, but you know what I mean.) And has anyone noticed?! Is anyone staring at me? Am I embarrassed?
I thought about my thoughts. No, I’m not embarrassed. What’s embarrassing about sitting, relaxing and thinking? Who’s going to judge me and, gawd, why would I care?
I worried about my son Fionn, whose phone seems to be stuck to his hand 24/7. He NEVER does nothing. He looks at that *%$#! damn thing while he’s emptying the dishwasher, while he’s eating (unless I stop him), while he’s studying or even playing video games. Is he addicted to it? I think so.
Is that causing any harm, any unwanted behaviours?
Hmmm. Well, let’s see.
He doesn’t drink. Well, I’m sure he does a bit but he’s not out getting tanked every night like I was at his age. (Oops! Did I say that out loud?)
I know he’s not doing drugs. (Nothing out loud there).
He doesn’t smoke. (Still using my inside voice.)
He goes to school and gets good grades (Inside voice! Inside voice!)
He has a part-time job. He has good long-term friends. He pays for his own clothes and has been doing his own laundry since he was 14. He even cooks for himself. Goodness!
What am I worried about? I’m worried about him doing nothing!
Since when did parents start worrying about that factor????
I suspect, possibly for his current tribe anyway, that video games and social media are taking the place of drugs, cigarettes and alcohol, especially for boys. If that’s the case, how bad is it? Is it better? Worse?
I don’t have answers to those questions. And I’m sure if there’s no research currently under way on the subject, there will be. Maybe I should bring my tablet and google it next time I hit Starbucks. Clearly someone needs to be thinking about what not doing nothing is doing to our culture. (Yes, that’s a double negative and I dare you to parse it it.)