Mason was a blond toddler with an engine that just did not quit.
On a recent summer morning, he ran around and around an on the parking pad beneath the North Carolina beach house across from the one where my family was staying.
Mason scampered around the pillars that supported the house, past all kinds of beach paraphernalia. He was a trip and fall waiting to happen.
Zoom, zoom, zoom – Mason went this way and that as my wife and I watched from our rockers, morning java in hand. Then his mom, I think it was, began to pull into the driveway with groceries on board. It didn’t seem she noticed her little boy dashing toward the car.
“My God,” I said, “look out for the kid.”
Mason somehow stayed out from beneath the wheels of the car. Thank goodness.
But wasn’t someone supposed to be watching this pint-sized dynamo as he dashed to and fro?
Yep, his dad, sitting on a porch rocker, was supposedly on duty. But the whole time, the guy had his head down, staring reverently at an object he held in his hand as though it were the Holy Grail.
It wasn’t. It was a smartphone. I-Phone, Droid, doesn’t matter. This guy’s focus on his e-mail, or stock ticker, or Twitter feed was so intense he never looked up as his adorable kid raced around, looking for trouble, 20 feet away.
A few days later, back in Philly, my wife came home from her swim at the community pool spluttering in frustration. She’d paused to look at a beginning swim class, a half-dozen cute 6-year-olds learning the doggie paddle. For any parent, a moment to soak in and treasure for a lifetime.
Except, Eileen reports, the parents at poolside weren’t paying any attention. They also were too absorbed in their smartphones.
Now, this is not a jeremiad against change, progress and technology. Heck, I run a Web site for a living; I have a Twitter feed. That platform is a great tool.
But people, we have to get a grip. Our devices are just that, tools to aid our lives. But they are not substitutes for life. And they are not an excuse for negligence or rudeness.
Here’s my new motto:
Live first. Tweet about it later.