Busy Brain – From Nostalgia to Pet Peeve

It’s funny how the brain works. I started the day feeling nostalgic, and ended up a wee bit peeved.

It started with an exchange I had with a friend on Facebook about A Charlie Brown Christmas turning 50, which then had me going down memory lane about all the major events that are forever etched on my mind as a kid growing up in the 60s.

The assasinations of John and Bobby Kennedy, and Martin Luthor King. The civil rights movement. The Vietnam War protests. The (first!) Trudeaumania. The first moon walk.

For me, all of them are in black and white – because in the 60s, our TV set was small, boxy and certainly not colour.

It’s memories like this that are burned in my brain…

As I look over at my big flatscreen TV, it seems hard to believe. So many things have changed in my lifetime. So many things we take for granted were unheard of when I was growing up.

There were no fax machines, no voicemail, no PCs, no email, no Windows, no Macs, no cell phones, no iPads – and no digital cameras.

There was no Twitter, no Instagram, no Facebook, no Snapchat, no Pinterest.

Wow. When you actually list everything, it’s amazing, and daunting. Ancient history to so many people who’ve simply grown up with everything I’ve been lucky enough to adopt as they happened!

Our society has gained so much. I know for myself that technology has helped me navigate the world in ways that I could never dream of as a kid. My photography is a testament to that. And I absolutely love my gadgets. I can’t picture my life without them.

But there are downsides to everything, even amid such incredible progress. One pet peeve in particular has been gnawing at me lately, and that’s where my mind took me next.

I fear we’re losing our awareness of the world and people around us. I see downcast eyes glued to phones and ears stuffed with earplugs of every variety. What I’m not seeing is as much direct interaction between people, and because of that, I fear we are at risk of losing compassion and empathy for others. I see it on our transit system all the time. I just hate it when I see elderly, pregnant, and disabled passengers standing because people refuse to look up and offer their seat.

And you know what? This distraction can also be dangerous. Aside from the real and constant danger of texting and driving, people on foot are also in danger of hurting themselves and others. I’ve almost run into several people on the street or even worse – on a flight of stairs! – who stop dead because they’re texting on their phones.

I’m not alone. I’ve had a few conversations about this lately.

Believe me, I can get preoccupied with my iPhone too – but I’m making a very concerted effort to limit my use when I’m with others, and I never use it when I’m walking. I wish other people would do the same.

OK, rant over. I have no idea where this busy brain will take me next…