A couple of summers ago I found myself irritated by a teenage girl lying beside a stone bridge along the Llangollen Canal, face stuffed in her cellphone. But why?
I’m sure I projected onto her the irritation I feel by noticing people everywhere chained to their electronic devices. And it seemed a certain indignity that she would ignore such light, air, and tranquil beauty for the sake of mindless texting.
But isn’t it funny that I would approve of this same girl ignoring her environment by burying her face in a book? And I’d certainly think it lovely to see her absorbed in conversation with a friend.
What’s more, if the girl were a local it’s understandable that she’d become inured to the scenery. It often takes the eyes of a stranger to point out the beauty in the places we live. And she was, after all, a teenager.
Whatever the case, she got under my skin. I suspect I felt her rude for disturbing my fleeting unplugged peace, the sight of the cellphone jarring like a noisy muffler on a sleepy Sunday morning.
But this kind of retrospective analysis is mere guesswork. I just wonder why nearly two years on and being surrounded by cell phones wherever I go, this particular incident still rankles.
If it’s still a strong memory after 2 years, that shows that the image has captured something that is really important to you. I think I get it, and also get the question as to why if she had been reading a book it wouldn’t have been so noticeable. For me, it has to do with communing with the self rather than being involved with the whole wide world to the detriment of being, nurturing, an independent thinking human being. Either pondering the scenery or being involved with one story, one author seems to help develop a robust inner life, whereas passive entertainment or gossipy posts online seem to take us away from ourselves and being an active responsible person. Of course, all this talk has nothing to do with that particular woman, as for all we know she could have been skyping with her dying grandmother — a very worth activitiy indeed. —— but at least all these words help me acknowledge to myself how it is I want to live my own life!