Cel phone zombies and other nuisances- Yesterday on my run I encountered what is becoming an increasing blight on Western Culture: the spectre of the cel phone zombie. As I was crossing a pedestrian bridge a woman, who appeared to be in her mid to late thirties, was standing (not moving in any direction) directly in the middle of the path. She was slightly listing from side to side and had her arms been outstretched, I would have thought I was approaching a zombie from behind. However, she was far from one of the un-dead, rather her face and arms were glued to the small touchscreen of her cel phone. This would be grave yard creature was completely oblivious to the pedestrians she was obstructing who were moving towards her as well as myself as I approached from behind. Even as people struggled to get around her she ignored the outside world and, in zombie-like fashion, was devoid of even the most basic common courtesies usually extended between humans as they pass by each other during their daily lives. I have noticed cel phone etiquette, or the lack thereof, is becoming increasingly worse as the years and months march on. As I continued my run I wondered if our culture’s increasing reliance on technology and the pursuit more technology was necessarily a good thing.
As I continued down this path of thought, I was reminded of a date I had just before I met my wife fours years ago. I met a girl on a blind date at a local lounge. We greeted each other and sat down. The conversation was sparse- not for a lack of effort on my part, but because my date had a friend tethered on the other end of her cel phone’s text message screen who she was feeding live updates. She apologized every time she would halt the conversation to send a text, however they were so frequent that the conversation never had a chance to pick up any momentum. After about twenty minutes I had enough, so I excused myself and went up to the bar and paid our tab. I walked back to the table and let my date know I was leaving and informed her that if she was ever interested in having a date where we could get to know each other with actual conversation and with our cel phones turned off, I would be more than happy to give it a go. Her face went red and she was obviously embarrassed. I never heard from her again. Things worked out for me in the end as I met my wife about a month later. She never pulled out her cel phone once during our first date.
As I started down a ravine, my thoughts drifted to a macro level view of technology in general. One of my fears with my own children is that due to the level and integration of technology in our daily lives they will lose the capacity to have good communication with other people. So much of our communication now is cut up into small text based snippets which often lack context or tone. I know myself that there have been numerous times I have read a text message and had no idea if it was good or bad because the context was lost and there was no body or facial cues behind the words. I’m just as guilty of this as the next person where I would rather be lazy and just send a quick text rather than actually speak to someone else. Is this a good thing? Is being lazy toward communication with others good for society as a whole? I do not believe it is.
After leaving the ravine, I was back on the sidewalk for a stretch. I then began thinking about how it is not just communication that has been affected by technology, but every aspect of our lives. Specifically, I started thinking about the unnatural state of our diets. Almost everything we eat is processed and in many cases has to be ‘fortified’ with vitamins and nutrients so that the ‘food’ will actually have some form of nutrition. Most of the items in a grocery store, even if they don’t come in a box or package, are far from naturally occurring. Diabetes, cancer, multiple sclerosis and many other diseases may be accelerated and made worse by consuming these foods. As a culture we can make food faster and cheaper than ever before, but again, I wonder if this reality is actually a good thing. The image I keep getting in my head is overweight kids with one hand in a bag of chips and the other on a video game controller.
Entertainment is no longer an active event. More and more every year kids (and adults) are bypassing games like hide and go seek and pick up sports on local fields in favour of violent video games which do nothing to develop the body or the mind. I have always found it extremely ironic that as a person with multiple sclerosis I have a very difficult (and almost impossible) time getting any of my friends to do anything active with me. Go to a pub to eat wings and watch a hockey game? Sure I have time for that. Come with me for a run? No I am far too busy. It almost feels like were socialized to be lazy, consuming, buffoons.
The advancement of technology may seem like a good thing on the surface, but does it feel like a good thing? The more I think about it, the more I don’t think so. Do me a favour at the very least, don’t be a cel phone zombie. While you are at it, click your phone to silent or vibrate when you are in a public place. All phones have a little button to make this easy and while you may think your ringtone is funny or cute, it is actually pretty annoying to everyone around you.
(And yes, I see the irony that I wrote this on a computer and posted it to a blog).
Exercise and Multiple Sclerosis Update
I ran 16kms yesterday after taking over a week sabbatical from long runs. All I did for exercise this week leading up to the long run yesterday was a 5km run on Wednesday and my weekly game of ultimate frisbee on Thursday. Whether you have multiple sclerosis or not, rest is vital when you are training for anything. For example, here are my times distances over my last 5 long runs (of over 10km):
- June 22nd- 12.18 km, 1:24:58 total time, 6:59 per km pace
- June 25th- 15.32 km, 1:38:41 total time, 6:26 per km pace
- June 28th- 12.29 km, 1:24:39 total time, 6:53 per km pace
- July 1st, 14.32 km, 1:41:51 total time, 7:07 per km pace
- July 13th, 16.18, 1:42:35 total time, 6:20 per km pace
You’ll notice by taking some time off, I was able to increase my pace by almost a minute and my distance by almost 2km. The mistake I was making was trying to do too much without adequate rest. I did exercise during this ‘rest’ period, but it was light.
So if you are exercising don’t undervalue the importance of rest. It can make a huge difference.
Until next time,