I am in the dentist’s waiting room...Saturday morning, a gloomy, glimpy, grey day. Opposite me sit a father and daughter, together for a snatched hour, precious time alone and yet he is glued to his iPhone - a game, the news, porn, who knows, she to her gameboy, her brow deeply furrowed in concentration. No eye contact nor physical connection to each other. Their individual connectivity an alien thread to disparate digital worlds.
I thought it was she seeing the dentist, but no, it is her father who is called away; she does not notice. Away he walks, she carries on with her game.
Five minutes pass. Her mother arrives. No words. Daughter looks up and smiles, a beautiful smile filled with hope. Mother sits at the other end of the sofa, takes out her phone ... sms’ing, surfing, no idea. The mother doesn’t notice. Maybe not mother and daughter after all.
But wait, the girl turns her body to the woman and moves a little way along the sofa, gameboy in hand, smiling still, seeking the woman’s eyes. Nothing. Mother’s focus is on her phone; daughter’s smile fades and she returns to her game. Whilst I know I should not judge, I cannot help but feel saddened.
Now, as I write, words come to mind: The wisdom of His Holiness the Karmapa, spoken a couple of days ago in Mysore at TEDIndia, an event where almost every speaker was paying homage to technology be it through music, how to find water in a desert or all the wonders of computers and what they can do for our lives. Words spoken a scant seven days and a lifetime after the event in the dentist’s waiting room.
His Holiness said he was concerned, concerned that we are all looking without of ourselves with all this technology. He said we should really be looking at the development of the heart and the technology of the heart...that we should be improving our heart connections.
Looking at life around me, at the young girl and her parents in the waiting room ... how true, how very true are his words.
First published 10 November 2009.