The other day I was on the train and to my right there was one of the most stunning sunrises I had seen in a very long time. The sunlight came through the windows and splashed its magical colours all around me. I watched in awe.
Yet, when I looked around, I couldn’t find a single person looking at that marvel from Nature – literally, dozens of people all around me were, instead, looking at their screens. Every single one of them.
I peeked at the closest screen to me. She was just flicking from left to right – right to left on the phone’s home screen, doing literally nothing. I looked at my right – he was on Instagram, scrolling down and liking photos at a speed that made me wonder whether he was a superhuman to be able to grasp that quickly the information that was being presented on screen.
I looked at the sunrise again. The sun was sharing its pure beauty to whoever wanted it, yet nobody did. How did it/he/she feel about?
I quickly caught myself being judgmental. Maybe these people watch the sunrise every day, maybe they’re doing important things on their phones, maybe they just woke up and cannot be bothered to contemplate a boring sunrise, maybe… They surely had their own, valid reasons.
Ultimately, the fact of paying respect to a sunrise (or any natural wonder) does not inherently make me a better or worse human. I tried to break away from my judgment, and what was left underneath? A deep sense of sadness.
This is a growing feeling inside me every time I see our disconnection from Nature, from others and from ourselves.
René Dubos argued that “Trend is not destiny”, yet I wonder whether this is true in this case?
Screens have become the “new normal” – regardless of whether we, as individuals, want them or not. Constantly around us at all times, from flicking through Facebook right before falling asleep in bed, to waking up in the morning to say good morning to our smartphone before than to our partner.
However, I can see the hypocrisy in my words. I am writing this on a screen and I have spent most of my life in front of screens. I spent all my childhood playing video games, my teenage years playing even more video games (also semi-professionally) and my professional career has always been IT.
Yet, when stopping to reflect on it, most of my most precious memories and experiences have nothing to do with screens. And they didn’t need to be “liked” by anyone else but me to hold its value.
I am not putting forth a technophobic argument, as technology also has its many positive things (sadly, mostly for humans and not that much for the other living beings). Technology has shaped me as a person, taught me a lot about an immense variety of topics, allowed me to stay in touch with my beloved ones, and gave me a high quality of life. It has been the vehicle for my travels around the world, and ultimately, it has helped me to find my love for Nature – which, funnily enough, is now the root cause for my doubts about technology.
Maybe, the only thing that I am trying to say is that we could try to make an effort and look beyond the screens sometimes, to create more real relationships (with ourselves and others), to stop, breathe and observe the beauty around us, and to appreciate the simple things of life.
As Thoreau said,
“I did not wish to take a cabin passage, but rather to go before the mast and on the deck of the world, for there I could best see the moonlight amid the mountains.”
Maybe it is time to reclaim our life and walk to the mast?