Hey, I’m Talking To You

We have all heard it at one time or another. You’re browsing the aisles of the supermarket or enjoying a leisurely lunch at a favorite restaurant. Then you hear the loud, uncontrollable crying of a child. You search around, not too conspicuously, because you’re wondering if there is a child in true distress or if it’s merely a cranky toddler in need of an afternoon nap.

And when you encounter such a scene, what do you do? Do you offer kind, assuring words to the distraught parent and child, or do you simply walk away? It’s not easy to know these days what to do in such situations. Even if you do intervene in the kindest of ways, you might just be met with a “mind your own —- business!”

My bigger concern is that society today has taken to looking down — at cellphones, Ipads, computer screens — and has forgotten how to pay attention to the world around us. Do we even notice the child crying or the elderly woman having trouble crossing the street?

The cellphone is one of the greatest inventions of its time, yet it has singlehandedly impersonalized interaction between humans to an extent. On the street, in cars, at dinner tables, we are looking down at a screen that controls our lives. We are not paying attention to anything other than what’s going on in that miniature screen-version of life.

Yes, I enjoy the instant communication it offers. I love seeing my grandchildren on FaceTime and they love seeing us. But I also know that those same kids are happiest when their parents and grandparents read books with them and play games that require human interaction. Let’s not lose that with the younger generation.

What else are we missing when we are not looking around when we’re on the bus, airplane or just walking down the street? Remember the big push for all Americans to be aware of their surroundings after the 9/11 disasters? See something, say something.

You don’t hear much about that anymore but we should. We are at just as much a risk today as that day 17 years ago. The only difference is that we some very diligent Homeland Security folks watching out for us these days.

It’s still our duty as Americans to look out for one another. That requires paying attention to someone’s odd behavior, a suspicious package or threats on, yes, social media.

Every adult in this country most likely remembers where he or she was on Sept. 11, 2001. It was a day of horrific acts of terrorism that killed thousands and continues to take lives today through resulting health issues.

Don’t forget that day. And please, I’m pleading with you, look around. Be vigilant. Protect what we have, even if it’s just the cellphone in your hand.

Heather Ziegler can be reached via email at: hziegler@theintelligencer.net.


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