April 14, 2024
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April 14, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

It has become an incredible phenomenon. It’s called “always looking down.” Rarely does one see a person walking along the street looking up. Heads are overwhelmingly looking down at phones which are being held in the hands of each passerby. We do not think that people even realize what they are doing and how this can impact their lives and that of their families.

We were walking in the Cedar Market parking lot as we watched a mother get out of her van and walk toward the entrance of the store. She did not wait to see if her three children had exited the van behind her. She obviously assumed, we guess, that they just would and she was consumed by the device which she held in her hand. By the way, her children were not walking together either. Why would they as they have never had anyone to teach them? What if one stayed in the van, what if one ran in the opposite direction, what if…anything? We are not talking about teenagers. We assume that they were between six and 12. The same day driving on Queen Anne we observed people stepping into a designated crosswalk with their heads down, again the assumption being that cars would stop for them. Is it that much more important to read your text, make a call or watch who posted what on Instagram than to care for your own safety? The thought of what could happen does not seem to jolt people enough to put their newest best friend down for a minute in order to save themselves from what could be a catastrophic occurrence.

Certainly women are not the only culprits in these situations. Nina scurried out of the house this morning and she realized that she had the opportunity to spoil her husband with a treat of an unexpected bagel after the week of the chag. Unbeknownst to her she found herself returning as one of the Shacharit minyanim had concluded at Beth Abraham and, again, she witnessed men walking on the street (not the sidewalk) glancing down at their phones. In her estimation 80 percent of them were talking on their phones and looking down. There was total oblivion to the car coming up the street directly at them in some cases. She saw no communication from one to the other. Instead if they walked in groups of twos they each held their beloved device in their hands with their heads pointing down to the ground. Just one or two days prior they were exiting shul and interacting with their families. Children were gleeful from the attention from their parents, afforded to them by yom tovim and Shabbat when parents have no choice but to concentrate on having a child’s hand in their palms instead of an iPhone. It would be interesting to hear what young children would have to say about their parents constantly glued to the cellular devices. Perhaps a study will be done to zoom in on the effects that these relatively new behaviors have had on the confidence of children.

At any school activity, watch to see how long it will take parents to start looking at their phones, stealing a glance every once in a while to keep track of what is going on in the classroom or on the court or field.

Our intention is not to criticize but to suggest to others to sit down and realize how this little telephone has influenced all of our lives. We feel that people are missing out by not looking around them and noticing the beauty of the world that we live in. Has anyone taken a walk without a device and come across a deer walking near them? How would you notice if you are looking down? We laugh at all of the Canadian geese that seem to infest this area. Did you notice? The sky can be overwhelmingly beautiful, whether it be full of clouds or brightly blue. Upon looking down no one has the opportunity to greet their neighbor as they walk along any of the streets in our lovely communities. One does not need to know people in order to greet them but one does have to notice them first. People stand in lines in stores waiting to place their orders and once they are given and they pay their eyes are back to their devices. We have observed people walking into each other because it is hard to navigate the sidewalk when you think it belongs to you and you never look up. How many people have tripped or fell? We don’t know.

No one and nothing is that important that we need to live our lives without catching a glimpse of what is really going on around us. Maybe there will be an improvement when the younger generation today realizes that they missed out on a good deal of attention from their parents because of all of the devices available to all of them. Perhaps they will see the need to make a change. Our eldest granddaughter, Adina, who recently presented us with our 13th great grandchild, told us that when she is playing with her kids her phone is not with her. How ironic it is that people who have a physical condition which causes them to stoop over would do anything to be able to walk with their heads high and notice all of the beauty around them, and the majority of the world who has the ability to walk with their heads held high and notice so much has chosen to look down. Life is too complicated for us!

By Rabbi Mordechai and Nina Glick

 

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