18 April 2013


She gets out a flashy phone and starts texting and chatting with her friends. Every so often she laughs out loudly at some joke only known to her. Her face is a variety of emotions passed on by the people she chats with. One moment she looks almost ready to cry and I can only imagine she is chatting to someone who is not so happy. Then she bursts out laughing and I get confused.

My ride from town is made interesting sitting next to this young lady in the matatu. She seems to be in a world of her own, only looking up from her phone briefly when paying fare. Otherwise the whole journey home is punctuated with giggles and all manner of expressions as she exchanges all manner of info on her phone. Her speed on the Qwerty phone is somewhat enviable. She sends out endless chats as she switches from one account to another. She seems so engrossed in her world I dare not interfere.

I think about her long after the matatu ride. It concerns me because hers is not an isolated case. I see it all around me, young people who take up any available opportunity to communicate on their phones. As much as I have nothing against the use of the mobile phone it is the seeming addiction to it that bothers me. It seems young people are talking more to their phones than to other people.

When all is said and done we still need to talk to one another on a personal level. But that is changing fast with the elevated use of technology. Nothing wrong with using it to improve our lives but what concerns me is the fact that the warmth of one on one communication is fast getting extinct. It is possible to express my feelings over a chat or sms but miss out on the physical touch that is present in a face to face chat. I cannot dismiss those valuable clues and hints i get when chatting with people, the warmth of having someone's feelings flash across their face as we talk.

At times it makes sense to put all those devices down and stare out of the window of a moving vehicle instead of being immersed with the phone. When home it also makes sense that you bond as a family during those lively chats after dinner. Nothing can replace the warm laughter of family members who have come to an end of the day and gather together to share their experiences. It is the very essence of bonding.

But young people never ever fall shot of amazing habits. I have witnessed  young men who sit in a shared public seat like they are the only ones aboard. This leaves the other person dangling onto the little space left for them as the man taps away on his phone. I often wonder if such a person who is so engrossed in himself can have a healthy sharing relationship. Some habits are very telling, you know.

That said, there needs to be a balance in life so that we do not loose touch of the important things in life while chasing after what's new and seems appealing to us. Those phones and gadgets should not take the place of healthy communication. When not regulated these gizmos serve to break down the very fabric of relationships which is healthy talking with whole hearted attention given one to another. Otherwise we risk loosing out on the very things that make us human beings with all emotions to show for it.