Do you see how the world today oftentimes means that people are living on the periphery? The periphery of what, you ask?

The periphery carries connotations of being “peripheral” – inconsequential, marginal, not central.

I sit here staring out the window. It is a cold and sunless day. The sky is a solid sheet of gray.

There isn’t a leaf moving out there. It’s like the world said “shhh” and nature listened.

Sitting In A Crowded Office:

This morning I sat in a doctor’s office. I noted that every single person in there was on their “smart” phone. Mothers sat texting, while their children played.

So remote. Being on the periphery of someone’s attention. They would jostle their mother’s sleeve. “Just a minute. Just a minute,” she’d say impatiently.

I feel sorry for the children. They are the real casualties of today’s technology.

Longing For Quiet Coffee Shops:

I thought how nice it would be to go sit in a coffee shop and have a steaming cup of hot coffee. But I know I won’t do that. The cell phones and constant one-ended conversations would ruin it for me.

People don’t think of who is sitting next to them anymore. They carry on a conversation as though they’re in a room alone. I hear snippets of their lives I don’t want to be privy to. But I have no choice in the matter.

So I’ll just go home and fix a cup and enjoy it in peace.

Gone are the days when you could shop in relative comfort, in a relaxed state of mind. Where you didn’t hear voices from people on their cell phones all around you. Those days are gone.

Watch Where You’re Going, Because Many Aren’t:

You now have to be on the alert for motorized carts, and people staring down at cell phones and paying no attention to where they are going.

While mutilating the English language with their chopped sentences and abbreviated words.

For someone who loves words, this is bothersome. How on earth are children going to learn how to spell and speak properly?

I sit at traffic lights and it is the same story. On almost every corner, the driver is immersed in a phone call or has their head bowed texting someone.

Someone honks when the light turns green.

Why Is Everyone In A Hurry:

What is so important that it can’t wait until they’re out of traffic? Or until they can say it in person?

The world seems always in a hurry.

It is an impersonal world. Murky with all the generations trying to meld together.

And they all have their own observations, from vastly different viewpoints. And varied shades of time.

Why I Stay Home More:

I guess that’s why I don’t go out much. I miss the old days. When an outing was enjoyed.

Now I hurry through whatever errand I have and quickly head back to my inner sanctum where it is quiet and peaceful.

We are, all of us, merely the sum of our parts. We are made up of experiences of both good times and bad.

Life molds us like a piece of clay. We are who we are because of DNA and heredity.

Genetics loads the gun of our existence as we attempt to navigate this world.

Environment & Experiences:

But it is inevitably our environment and experiences that end up pulling the trigger.

I pull into the driveway, relieved to be home and out of traffic.

The world I knew and often still long for resides in my memory. And it won’t be coming back to town.


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  1. I would like to add another comment about cell phones. I was just talking to someone who called me from his cell. I could tell he was driving while talking to me. This makes me nervous because.. 1. I don't approve of this and I do not talk on mine while driving and 2.I feel like I am not that important to them if they can't take the time for just me. 3. what if he had a wreck and I could hear it all. Not only could he be responsible but I would feel some responsibility even though I had not instigated the call. What a horrible thing for me to think but it could happen. Just some food for thought. Blessings. Ann

  2. You've certainly touched a nerve with this post Brenda.

    The other day we were at a restaurant and next to our table was a family with a young boy of around 10. The entire time he sat there with his head down playing with his phone. I commented to my husband 'they probably consider this family time'.

    I'm not sure it's a good time to be young. Technology has it's place for sure, but when it replaces good manners, that's a high price to pay.

    I read all the comments and laughed out loud about chiming into someone's phone conversation.. I think I will use that one.

    I think you would love it at our cabin. Never any traffic, enough nature to keep you and your camera busy for years, and it's pretty every season. There's a room with your name on it (and Charlie's and Abi's).

  3. I am the mother of a 36 yr old son and two daughters aged 31 and 29. I am appalled at the spelling of words that my son sends in a text message. And with my girls I have seen way too many times how the kids are ignored due to something or another on the phone. I have had to institute an NO PHONE policy at our dinner table when they are at my house. I'm with you …you don't need to see what is going on ever second of the day. On the other hand I do have a smart phone and it has come in handy when I need directions or to occupy my grands with a game or two to keep them in their seat… I guess we are children of the 50's/60's/70's and long for the simpler times of our youth!

  4. You spoke volumes today Brenda! Thank you…and I so agree. While technology is fine to a point, it can not possibly replace human interaction. I too am tired of listening to all sorts of conversations…inattentive driving due to texting, and general use of a phone in a car. I do long for days of quiet shopping, even walks have become annoying. When did it become acceptable to chat privately in public? Our society seems very screwed up at the moment. I think it might be a generational thing…younger people who grew up with technology, seem fine with it. Older people, who remember how pleasant it was to live without all this technology, see things differently. We long for quieter days….less intrusions on our private life. Yeah…I'd like to go back….and get some civility back with all this technology! 😉

    1. I can remember a time, years ago, when I would stroll the aisles of Hobby Lobby, or go to a fabric store and gaze at the fabric. It was a relaxing time. Relaxing in public has become very difficult to attain.

  5. Brenda, I am sad for you! Go out and do your shopping and errands and smile and chat to someone like me who isn't holding a cellphone. Maybe you will make my day by commenting or just by gently smiling. Maybe I will make yours by complimenting your pretty blouse or clear skin. Maybe we could share a laugh about one of the zombies running into a glass door or merchandise display. Don't hold back from what you want to do and, especially, don't hide out at home, enjoy that cup of coffee at the coffee shop! There is much to be enjoyed in this world and you are missing out because of minor annoyances.

    1. I wish it was just a minor annoyance. But it isn't. I have had sensory problems since childhood. As a child, I could not bear loud noises. That persists to this day. I cannot go to movies, concerts, and the 4th of July is a nightmare. Everything for me is magnified. I wish I lived in the country where I could walk and be in nature and see no cars or traffic.

  6. I get upset at the way so many people are "plugged in" to their devices. Of course I feel the same way about television. There are many people that do not turn the things off, even when they have company. There are a group of us that are in the same industry that get together for lunch every so often. I suggested that we all put our phones in the middle of the table and if anyone reaches for it during lunch THEY PAY for everyone's lunch. 🙂 We now have nice uninterrupted lunches. (everyone turns their electronic leashes off) People need to learn how to live in the moment and control their phones. I agree with you that going to most coffee shops is not a relaxing event. There is one close to here that does have free WIFI, but they also encourage those that want to use it to be quiet and not disturb the rest of the patrons. They also have wonderful coffee. It is my favorite coffee shop!

    1. Wow! I wish I knew of a place that encourages patrons to be quiet. I am one that does not turn on the TV just to have it on. And when I go to someone's home and it's on in the background, I find it very annoying. At night I will watch TV in my bedroom with the pupsters. But during the day, it is always off.

  7. What a wonderful post, you are indeed a great writer!
    I totally agree with you. Am I from this world? Because I almost do not use the phone,just when it is really necessary, use the computer only to read and talk to friends like you,that live so far from me! I like to meet my friends,drink a cup of brazilian coffee with a piece of homemade cake, and talk face to face. When I go out with my son,or
    alone or to visit a friend, I do not take the cell with me, can you believe that? I enjoy the bookstores,libraries and
    parks,the birds, dogs and plants. I love simple pleasures, the rain, the beach,the countryside,our beautiful historical cities like Ouro Preto, and love to learn with people from other cultures. Well, I think I would be considered an old fashioned lady,maybe? Or not from this world… If we happen to known each other someday,I
    promise no cells wil bother our coffee!

    1. I would love to have coffee with you! I too love the simple pleasures of life. I ran across a great quote the other day. All I can remember was: enjoy the simple pleasures or you will never get to the big ones.

  8. I honestly just don't understand the CONSTANT NEED to be talking or texting. I just don't get it. I used to be on multiple phone lines 40 hours a week in the work place, and now I can't stand telephones. For me, cell phones are a long leash and I wouldn't have one at all, except for emergencies and to keep in touch with my elderly mom. I also hate having to listen to other people's conversations and it's always at the top of their lungs it seems.

    1. I don't get it either. While it's nice to join someone to go shop at the thrift store or just walk around, I often prefer to just be alone with my own thoughts. When do these people turn off the devices and live?

  9. Luckily you can still find that world in blogland. Where people take the time to share and communicate……
    As for driving and texting and talking on your cell, that is one of my biggest pet peeves. I still see people doing it and it is illegal here. In fact, we've just had a court decision that it is illegal to have your phone in your hand while driving – even if you aren't using it! I think if people are caught breaking this law…they should take their phone and ban them for owning one for a year. That would fix them! J

  10. I know. I'm guilty of taking my smart phone everywhere with me, but I don't use it when I'm out visiting people because I think it's rude. I don't text and drive and my phone calls come through my speaker system in my car so it's safe to drive and talk at the same time. What I do love about it is the since of being able to reach someone anytime I need to. Trust me, I'm feeling VERY disconnected right now to my oldest son who just left for Marines boot camp yesterday and DOES NOT have a phone with him. I can't talk to him while he's there. Only old fashioned letters are allowed. So, I feel like I'm stepping back in time to connect with him. It's so hard!!!! I bet he is missing feeling connected to his friends and family too. That kid never goes anywhere without his phone and is one of those people you described. LOL!

    1. After this experience, he might not need the phone as much. He will be accustomed to other forms of communication. I do admit that my children are long grown, and so this has not been an issue for me as it is for you mothers with children still at home and just now leaving the nest. I understand, Kelly.

  11. You must be reading my mind..Well said and so eloquently..I so wish I had the ability to express my thoughts the way you and some of my other cyber pals do…It's a gift.

  12. Ditto to everything you said! I am working on a post about my experience in a doc's office the other day, and I would like to reference this one for everyone to go read. I expect to have it done by the weekend (I hope) . Sometimes I feel like an antique in a post-modern world gone awry.

  13. Oh Brenda,
    I too crave what was, it must be the season of our lives at the moment. I literally ache inside for the world which I once knew. This is beautifully written and I hear you.

  14. Things are different now, surely, but not necessarily worse. People I know often wax nostalgic for the 1950s, which I remember not fondly at all. Polio, and restrictions from going out with fear of it. Untold suffering because of segregation People routinely dying of heart attacks and strokes who could easily be saved now, little treatment for cancer, which often made it an automatic death sentence. Women not happy as full time homemakers stuck in the house anyway because of the push for "togetherness". Not to mention all the events when lives, time and problems could have been spared if cell phones had existed then. I don't think the disadvantages of living now are so horrible in the grand scheme of things. That's the kind of reasoning that would have eliminated the wheel, since without it there would be no lives lost in vehicle accidents.

  15. Brenda, I agree with you, but I try to remind myself that the only thing that is constant is change. A hundred years ago people swore that cars were going to be the end of society. I don't know if our lives would have been better without cars, they certainly would have been different.

    Personally, I don't use my cell phone in public, I'm not much for talking on the phone anyway; but I don't really think its any of my business if someone else wants to. If two people are engaged in a conversation in a coffee shop that I can overhear, it doesn't bother me, so I'm certainly not going to let one person on a cell phone bother me. On the other hand, if I'm having coffee with a friend and they chose to spend more time on their phone than talking to me, we probably won't be spending much time together.

    1. It doesn't bother me so much if it's just one conversation. It's when they're all going on at the same time. Still, I find it rude. They could go someplace private to talk to someone on the phone. That's why phone booths had four square sides and a door.

  16. I completely agree with you, Brenda. This intrusion into our lives is one of the many reasons I am in pursuit of a simpler life. I love my cell phone for the fact that it gives me security and allows me to easily take photos when I am out, but the younger generation needs to disconnect from their phones and start connecting with their families. They will wake up one day and regret all they have missed. xo Laura

  17. Brenda, as a teacher for 22 years, I have definitely seen times change, especially the writing! But on a positive note, I feel like it was actually worse one or two years ago, with more slang and abbreviations being slipped into essays….I don't see that as much anymore. Now if I could get them to write in cursive 🙂

  18. It is sad, Brenda, that we often don't pay attention to each other, that everything seems so impersonal today!. Sadly, a clerk sometimes never even looks at you when they are checking you out with your groceries. It feels pretty lonely sometimes, when you don't have a friend to talk to, shop with, have coffee with. But because of technology, I was able to send cheerful birthday messages to 2 lovely nieces on Facebook, take adorable cell-phone pictures of my 3-yr. old grandson while I was shopping with him, and send them to his Mommy, who's away on a trip, and scan a Heinz ketchup bottle to donate to Veterans, at the diner , I think you can do much good with your cell phone, and PC.
    It's not the phones and computers so much as it is the lack of respect and good manners that causes a problem in this graceless age. "The Age of Rudeness", I call it. I agree, that people speak horribly today!
    Too much TV and newspapers can cause the same problem if our companion is immersed in them and ignoring us. Good thing you could blog about it!
    I liked your post today, because it makes us all think about paying attention to each other and the wonder around us. I think, by all who commented, you know you are not alone, many of us care and want to connect. We all need each other, in good times and bad, to share joy and disappointments. You are a very thoughtful person, and I'm sure there are many others who will enjoy your company, and share your ideas.

    1. I think that's why I'm sure a nature person. I enjoy watching and listening to the birds and squirrels. Their worlds have not changed. Nature remains the same one it was when I was a child.

  19. Besides every single thing you wrote, I also dislike going out with friends and after being sat at the table, everyone pulls out their phones to put them on the table! As if being with who you're with isn't good enough and a better offer might come via text!!

    1. I have the same thing happen. And that's why I don't go out much. I know if I do go out with someone, that phone will be front and center. And if it rings or they get a text, I'm all but forgotten.

  20. I try to join in on those public cell phone calls. I make comments about what they are saying and if they give me dirty looks I smile and say "Oh, I thought you were talking to me". They usually walk away muttering. Don't let it get you down, remember YOU have manners, You know how to relate to people face to face. Too bad for them!

  21. Brenda,
    I am in my 20's and often feel like I was born in the wrong generation, the generation that made these devices as popular as they are. As a primary school teacher, I do believe that technology can be useful, but at the right time and place. I also loved that you mentioned that many butcher the written word. That is very true ans it bothers me too. Thanks for taking a moment to speak what I have been thinking and to help me slow down to enjoy the simple things.

    1. Well, you must be one of the few young people that would agree. Yes, the English language always had slang. But we understood. Now the written word is "u" for "you." As a teacher, do these kids know which one is actually correct?

  22. Brenda, cell phone conversations in public drive me crazy! But I've really embraced texting! My family and I can communicate without bothering other people and the messages are brief. But what really drives me nuts is my husband with his head down reading email when we are waiting in line or waiting for our food at a restaurant.

  23. I couldn't agree more! The only reason I have a cell phone is because my daughter bought it for me since I have the grand-kids so often, I only use it for emergencies. While waiting to pick the grands up, after school, every single person has their eyes glued to their phone/personal device. No one makes eye contact an no one speaks to each other. I think back to all of the friendships that were forged some 30+ years ago while waiting for my kids outside of their classrooms. These young parents will never know the relationships they are missing out on. Sad situation.

    1. I remember those days. My daughters will be 35 and 39 next month. Many great friendships were cultivated waiting on that bell to ring. Thanks for the reminder.

  24. I'm grateful for much of today's technology, but I agree it is robbing families of quality family time. Even the parents are too involved in their tech toys to be bothered for long periods. The Man and I went out to breakfast Sunday and had to wait for a table. It made me sad to see couples sitting there waiting on a table, both engaged in their phones and not looking up or at another soul.

    As for the children of this generation, so many of them don't know how to sit still long enough to read a book. They're so used to seeing moving images on the TV screen and now parents are buying them phones at shockingly young ages.

  25. I went grocery shopping today and just about every young woman (20's & 30's) were on their cell phones while they were shopping. One lady was wearing a bluetooth thingy over her ear and talking while she was walking down an aisle…she looked so silly talking into the air and gesturing with her hands to no one. It made me laugh but yet I was cringing inside. There are a couple of independent coffee shops around me where they are quiet – people are generally reading or are on their laptops, not phones. Whew.

    1. No, it's not the gray day. It's the sad loss of civilization. I'd rather live in the past than take part in this rude world that surrounds me today.

    1. Yes, so sad. My grandson is nine years old. And my daughter says you cannot believe the texts he gets from other girls. How "advanced" they are. Scary.

  26. Well, it's great news to me to find a kindred spirit! I HATE all the "smart" phones that cause endless accidents and incredible rudness! I ride the bus to and from work. I cannot tell you how many conversations I have had inflicted on my poor ears, the most intimate (and sometimes disgusting) details of the speaker's life — and they don't care. They are either totally oblivious to the world, which is a sign of a serious problems, or they are exhibitionists deliberately trying to shock the unwilling "hearers" within the range of their malicious conversations. Short of ripping a phone out of someone's hand and throwing it into the road, there is no way to spare yourself from these incredible and insulting incursions into your personal space. People will run you down in their cars because they're so busy on their cellphones texting, or arguing with – whomever, they will knock you over on the sidewalk because they are not aware of where they are walking, and then look at you like it is YOUR fault, and the thing that probably drives me craziest of all, they get on the elevator and just have to whip out their phone and poke their fingers at the screen. People who SHOULD know better do this. Supposedly educated people. People used to have manners, courtesy and used to be aware at all times how not to impinge on those "invisible spaces" that surround strangers, co-workers, friends and even loved ones, but today all of those boundaries are trampled over time and time and time again. This dis-ease has spread everywhere – to our economic system, to our political system, to our schools, even to our churches. All of our institutions are infected. I am sooooo sick and tired of it. And it's making a lot of people actually physically sick and tired, too. There is an illness and a malaise in our society that is destroying the core fabric of civility, and it makes me so sad to see, as well as alarmed. At age 62, I've lived through many different times already and, frankly, sometimes I think there is no hope for us as a people, as a culture, as a nation, the way things are today. Sad. I do not believe mankind was designed to live like this, and I think we're seeing more and more mental illness and horrid violence as a direct result of the way our culture is pushing people to live in certain ways today. Sorry for the rant, oh my! My home is my sanctuary and has been for probably the past 15 and more years. I love the peace, the quiet, the serenity of my home, my rickety old deck and my garden. I love the animals (I feed them all), I love the pace of actually living in REAL time, sitting on the deck in the summer and just looking around, or reading, or visiting my favorite blogs, and reading the news online, and in the winter doing the same wrapped in an afghan before the fireplace, if only for a few precious hours every weekend while I am still working full-time. I like having my computer and email, but my life would not be destroyed if tomorrow they disappeared forever. I do not own a cell phone, I do not own an answering machine. I do not have cable television or uverse, I have not turned myself into a borg. That hive mentality, what a metaphor for so many people today — and they aren't even aware of it! What irony. Of course, most people don't even know what that means, LOL!

    1. Hate to sound ignorant, but what is uverse? See, I don't keep up with this stuff and that's why I'm an anachronism. Now I see how the generations shift and the oldest get left out because technology changes so fast they can't keep up. I'm 56, but was raised to be respectful of other people. To smile and to offer my help to someone older than me. (My elders, as it was explained.) I think cell phones are dangerous to our physical as well as mental health. If they all get cancer, they can't say they weren't warned. But I doubt cancer would even stop them.

  27. I agree with you 100%…its a crazy world we live in today…I have an iphone but only use it when I am not out in public,,my husband wants me to have it in case he wants to get a hold of me or for emergencies…I find it rude to be with people and they are on theirs…not very classey!!! Carol

    1. Just think what it's like for store clerks who can't even get their attention to pay their bill. And there's irritated customers standing in line. I never had a smart phone, and I getting rid of the cheap phone I have. I worry about emergencies, but it's $37 a month I could be saving because I never even turn it on.

  28. I mostly see the cell phone calls and texting going on with the younger generation. I was driving by a high school as it was just getting out one day last week. Ever single solitary teen had their head bent down looking at or texting their phone. They are like life lines. And then one day I was driving with my daughter and she talked to someone on her cell for 20 solid minutes. When she was finished I told her it would be the last time we did anything together if she did that again. Phone etiquette has to be learned and the word spread. And like the sign in the tag place you went to, consequences for abusing the rules.


    1. Jane, I am so glad you "laid down the law." It seems everyone I'm ever around has a cell phone go off during our conversation, and I just sit there, forgotten. It is a rude world. Here, I'm seeing it in most every age group. Embarrasses me for those my age. Thought they would have some manners.

  29. Brenda….I wonder. I miss the times when life was like you said. I am weary with texting and the cell phone. I would be happy to do without it and I may. My daughter and I are both rethinking our lives. We all need to do that from time to time. I don't want to grow sick or old and only remember hitting keys on a board instead of the face of my friend looking back at me as we talk. I cannot live this way forever. I'm working at finding a new way.

  30. Beautifully written, Brenda. I agree with you. I use my cell for emergencies. When I am out with friends,, they get at least 3 – 4 calls, from family, nothing of importance. It doesn't seem to matter if the conversation is going on for a few minutes, while I am driving or just "there". Oh well. I still have my old ways and I am not about to change. xo

    1. When I want to read, I want a book. When I want to chat, I want to be home where no one can hear. But when I want peace out in public, there's nowhere to go.

  31. I'm with you, Brenda. My phone stays in my car when I go in anywhere-unless I am waiting for a drs call or someone is ill. I am one of those that honks at people that sit after the light has changed finishing up their text messages. I see it all the time while they are driving even though it is outlawed here.

    Life has changed in so many ways….and while technology is wonderful it has taken the place of human contact in many instances.

    Hope you have a great night- xo Diana

  32. I couldn't agree with you more Brenda. I still find it appalling to be in a public place and hear people appearing to be talking to themselves! I see where doctor offices in my area ask patients to please turn off their cells when they enter the office. Actually, I don't know what these folks are talking about–I'm not that interesting, to be able to yak constantly on a phone!

    1. The other day I was in a tag agency getting my car tag for the next year. The sign on the wall said: If we catch you on your cell phone, you will go to the end of the line.
      Loved it!

  33. Hmm. Not really experiencing that here, Brenda. Someone in the doctors office is sure to start a conversation, especially if I'm knitting while I wait. Even in the big box stores people of all ages respond to a compliment, a smile or a remark. I've never been much for coffee shops. The few times I tried it I would be engrossed in my own early antisocial device, my book. I'm nowhere near a big city. Maybe that helps. 🙂

  34. I agree Brenda, what indeed has become of our society? I only have a cell phone because my daughters pay the bill. They send pics of the grandchildren which I appreciate, but otherwise I would do without. Not only does everyone have their ears glued to a cell phone but now they are beginning to not call as if that is too personal, they TEXT instead and usually while driving. It's a sad state of affairs when a person can't go anywhere without encountering someone else yakking away on a phone. I still find myself thinking the person next to me in line is addressing me only to turn around and see them talking to someone on a cell phone, sigh, I don't know I guess it's all part of this technological age unfortunately. But actually it comes down to just plain courtesy which is sorely lacking.

    1. That's particularly what bothers me. I turn around and all these separate conversations are going on and I have no idea if they're speaking to me or not.

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