It was 6pm. The sun’s intensity had faded, miniature waves lapped at my ankles and a balmy sea breeze gently drifted landward. I arrived at the Gold Coast a week ago and since then my walking pace has slowed and my lips have taken on a semi-permanent upward turn.
As I weaved my way along the beach I sidestepped a dog chasing a tennis ball, dodged a family playing the final innings of beach cricket with all the enthusiasm of a test match, ducked beneath fishing lines and admired those making the most of the surf before the yellow and red safety flags were taken down for the day.
Like most writers, I’m curious and observant and not ashamed to say I have the art of eavesdropping down to a fine art. While I was walking along the beach contemplating life and all its vagaries, I heard a mother say to her young daughter as she passed by with her head bent and a mobile phone in her hand, ‘be quiet, Shona, I’m texting.’
I spent the remainder of my walk thinking about social media. How often have we seen a mobile phone raised in the air to capture a moment? Or a driver texting at traffic lights? The other day a cyclist whooshed past texting as he peddled madly past me. I stopped by the water’s edge and looked around. And yes, there they were! Mobile phones. I was surrounded by them. Have we all gone mad?
In my pre-writing days, I had no idea what it meant to be on twitter, facebook or to enter through the portals of the blogosphere. Back then I valued my privacy and tended to keep my jumbled thoughts to myself. Fast-forward… and here I am-I’m an addict. I have this compulsion to check my mobile phone just in case I missed a call or an important text message. Ding! Has someone just liked or commented on one of my blog posts?
Why do we seek and need this instant gratification? Is it a human flaw, this neediness? When we send a text message most of us expect an immediate response. We carry our mobile phones around with us like a talisman and I believe we invite stress into our lives by texting or playing mindless games. Are we afraid to be left alone with our thoughts?
I’m a person who enjoys a challenge so I’ve decided to set myself a goal for this week. Note to Gina: I will not log on to social media, instigate a text or a phone call for the remainder of the week. Today is Tuesday, so six days until midnight, Sunday. Wish me luck. Then again, maybe you shouldn’t…I might be tempted to respond.