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Are we over reliant on mobile phones and computers?
Are we over reliant on mobile phones and computers?

By Dawn Renton

Texting, Tweeting, Facebooking, Whatsapp, Skype, video chats, apps for this and that... where will it all end?!

In a world where we have never been so connected to each other, if I’m honest, I feel that we have never been more detached.

I’m so tired of writing LOL. I’d much rather be laughing out loud with someone who is sitting right next to me, to share the joke together and see the other person’s reactions.

And don’t even get me started on those self-checkout machines in supermarkets! I miss chatting away to cashiers about the weather or what happened on Emmerdale the night before.

Yes, I even miss the ones who have told you their entire life story and their families’, and the ins and outs of their kids’ latest illness by the time it takes to scan and pack your weekly shop.

I hate those machines that start screaming ‘UNEXPECTED ITEM IN THE BAGGING AREA!’ making everyone stare at you as though it just shouted, ‘STOP, THIEF!’and it makes you look certifiable when you answer it back: ‘NO THERE ISN’T! STOP SHOUTING AND EMBARRASSING ME!’... Oh, wait, is that just me that does that?

On a recent weekend night out, I looked around and noticed that the majority of people were sitting on their phones, fingers moving faster than the speed of light as they updated their status for the 10th time that evening, and conversed with some unknown person, instead of chatting to the people that they were with and enjoying their company. Which, to me, is what a night out is all about.

We’re losing the art of conversation and the enjoyment of spending time together and there is nothing more annoying than hearing different beeps and buzzes coming from people’s phones.

I remember a time when we didn’t have texting. I know. How did I ever survive, right? Even email was something quite new and everyone was a bit scared of it and only really businesses used this email malarky.

People had to pick up the phone if they wanted to talk to someone or write a letter. Such simple times. ‘Absence makes the heart grow fonder’ to quote Sextus Propertius, but how can you miss someone when they are always at the end of the phone and you can see what they are doing by signing into Facebook at any given time of the day and night?

Now, don’t get me wrong, social networking certainly has its benefits. It is a godsend for keeping in touch with people who you don’t see very often or to hear the latest news and goings-on from family who live on the other side of the world.

In these cases I’ll put my hands up and admit that it does come in handy and is a good thing.

It is a great tool in the fast-paced world of journalism too. To be able to interact with people, to see what different organisations and groups are up to, getting the reactions and reading the comments of our readers and posting links to our website.

Even having your phone beep with a lovely wee text that puts a great big smile on your face for the rest of the day is fab, but when your phone is surgically attached to your hand and you go into complete meltdown if you lose it and can’t go more than five minutes without checking Facebook or Twitter, well, then you have a problem.

Perhaps what we really need to do is strike some sort of a balance. We can’t get lost in this lonesome cyber world. We need to get back out there in the real world and interact with each other instead of staring intently at our phones waiting for the latest update from our friends and followers.

So I challenge you, dear reader, to step away from your computer, put down your phone/iPad/tablet and arrange to meet up for a coffee and a blether with your nearest and dearest.

Go on, what are you waiting for?