Morning, in Spring I believe. Class that day; I sat at the bus stop downtown staring, as I often do, at the sky, the clouds, the trees, taking in the cool sea air before cramming myself into a bus and then cramming myself into a classroom. A couple of pedestrians across the street caught my attention; a mother and son, or so I can’t but assume. The child’s feet were moving in such a way as to provide locomotion for the body as a whole, but this was the only sense in which the boy was evidently aware of his environment. Aside from this contact between his feet and the ground, he was otherwise utterly transfixed by the iPad or some such so-called “smart device” in his hands, staring unblinkingly at its screen and nothing else.
His mother, I assume, walked apace behind him, hands on his shoulders as on the bars of a bicycle. She thus steered the hypnotized youth down a dip in the curb and across the street. Her expression seemed tired, but she made no protestations to the boy; did not bid he tear his impressionable young blue-eyed gaze away from his visual data feed, lest he wander into oncoming traffic, off a seaside cliff, into a warehouse receptacle for discarded shards of rusted metal.
At his screen the boy stared. At the boy I stared.
The bus arrived, I boarded, sat down, glanced to my fellow passengers; over half were engaged in communion with their “smart devices”, their faces looking so much like that of the boy who must be steered through life. “Surely this is worth it though,” thought I, “after all, we’re soaking up information and news at an unprecedented rate. We’re smarter than ever. Save for I, the bumpkin, the farm boy, the country simpleton who looks out windows admiring things as mundane as trees, hills, mountains. Perhaps it’s time I join my generation in this new age of intellectual enlightenment before I’m left insalvagably behind?”