I took a ride down an excellent rail trail in Morgantown, West Virginia, over the weekend. It followed the mighty Monongahela River, gliding down its blessedly level banks (hard to find many locations that aren't steep hills in West Virginia. The state is beautiful but very challenging for biking. As I rode, I watched and interacted with people I passed. I waved, I smiled, I stopped for a terrific conversation with an older gentleman who had a terrific response for the toss off "How are you?" line we all ask but never intend to receive an answer to. Here's what I observed as I attempted interaction with others:
- People who were unconnected to electronics would smile, wave, respond with cheerful words of greeting. In other words, they were engaged in play, fully participating in the world around them, taking in the glories of nature, happy to interact with others, and fully engaged in play. Even a restaurant employee setting up tables for the noon time rush spared me a sunny smile when I waved and smiled first. It was a wonderful and uplifting experience.
- People who were carrying cell phones of listening mp3 players (I won't name any brands as I'm not trying to cast aspersions on any particular company) were an entirely different story. They were grim faced folks who would not interact with others around them. When I waved or spoke to any of the techno-clan, I received stoney silence in return. Their face, if not set in a look of disengaged anger were entirely blank. It was creepy. The difference was so stark. They reminded me of a combination of the Borg from "Star Trek: the Next Generation" and the zombies from Shawn of the Dead. These folks were pretending to play and receiving none of the benefits of real play. Instead of engaing fully in play, these folks were elsewhere while they moved through the environment, and it is obvious they were no enjoying themselves.
Oh, by the way, I played with my family and we all went out to see the movie Despicable Me. If you haven't seen it, do so before it leaves the big screen. As with many movies this year, it is a 3-D experience and well worth seeing that way. The minions are wonderful and the movie will bring both laughter and unexpected tears to viewers of all ages.