Hard to believe I’m headed out of Vermont again so soon, but lucky for me I am. Away from the lingering snow, the gray skies, my hectic schedule and my computer screen, for a whole week. I’m flying to the land of sunshine and flowers and ocean and stars. Yes, you guessed it, I’m embarking on my April Los Angeles visit (with a side-trip to Palm Springs)!
Last week a group of us met for a mid-week dinner celebration in a lively local Tex-Mex restaurant. We were mostly colleagues who see each other daily, nodding a quick hello as we pass through the high school halls, but here, with the platters of chips and bowls of salsa to share and a spouse or two sprinkled between, we laughed over miss-steps and shared our stories. We remembered why we are friends while the revelry fed our spirits; back at school the next day our passing in the halls slowed a bit to allow for an extended greeting. Our table of 10 was adjacent to a table for 7, where a family was seated, mom and dad and their five children, ranging from pre-teen to teen. After getting settled and menu options discussed each member of this family pulled out an electronic device; several had iPads, others gaming devices, parents too studied their smart phones. No one at that table spoke. Even when their food came they kept to their solitary pursuits. The contrast between our experiences was visible and startling for while we all left our isolation and found community, this group did something quite opposite and gained what I wondered? What role does technology have in our lives, our families, our relationships, or our workplaces? Is there a compelling reason to embrace being plugged in over an equally compelling reason to not be?