Having grown up in a country where families are separated by the need to work abroad to earn more money, I love how technology makes this world a little smaller. It makes families today connect easier via social  media and other apps where all you need is an internet connection and you can talk for hours on  end.

On the flipside, people who are co-located seem to be farther apart because people have become virtually connected but physically disconnected. Ever been with friends during dinner and everyone is so busy taking pictures of food? And if you’re sharing and  start eating when the ‘photo op’ is not yet over, you actually have to put back that shrimp you took into its original place, otherwise you won’t hear the end of it. Seriously.

But wait there’s more! And so food photo op is finally over and you can actually start eating. Or so you thought. Now comes the part where people zone out and start uploading the photos to (anti)social media.That is what the hashtag ATM is all about. Back then, this only means Automated Teller Machine. In the 21st century, it means At The Moment; as though there is an unspoken urgency to post whatever it is we are doing or eating.

But people have data plans too! Photo courtesy of my brother. He snapped this photo from our favorite cheap gourmet resto, Kanto Freestyle Breakfast.

But people have data plans too! Photo courtesy of my brother. He snapped this photo from our favorite cheap gourmet resto, Kanto Freestyle Breakfast.

As if that is not enough, amidst all the conversation and laughter going around, there will be people who cannot seem to part with  their mobile phones even for a while. I understand checking your phone every so often, but to be on your phone more than you are actually engaged in the conversation, that is just rude.  I don’t know how doing this has become acceptable in this modern society.

Do not get me wrong. I love virtual connection as much as I love being physically connected. The internet has made it easy for me to talk to my sister and her family who lives in the UK and with relatives and friends who are living in various parts of the US, Europe and Asia. I love posting statuses and photos too! Of mundane things or some political issues that I feel strongly about. What I am driving at is: never be so busy capturing the moment that people actually lose you in the moment.

The same technology that has connected people from different continents has disconnected people who are just within few feet of each other. I just hope that people realize that it is blatant rudeness to be on your phone more than the company you’re with.  It’s like talking to someone but your eyes keep darting in different directions like you would rather be somewhere else. If that is how you feel, I think it’s more decent to excuse yourself entirely and be with those people you’re chatting with. Because it’s bad enough that you seem disinterested, it’s worse that you think this is the new norm; that this is acceptable behavior. It is not.

The best gifts are indeed free. Your time. Your undivided attention. Bear that in mind.


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