Living in The Age-of-Me
By Nan Russell
Perhaps I've grown accustomed to those eyes-down-face-in-gadget encounters. People too self-absorbed texting to answer their child's persistent query at the grocery store; too absorbed reading email at the restaurant to engage in a conversation with the person across from them; or too absorbed boarding the plane while talking on their cell to store their luggage so others can get by.
Whether it's a restroom chatterer in the stall next door or a texting phenom in a darkened theater, we're regularly reminded that we're living in an age of me-ness. From personal YouTube channels to picture-posting Facebookers obsessed with documenting their day versus experiencing it, let's face it, we're enthralled with ourselves .
Even so, I was surprised when witnessing a next level of this behavior in a hotel bar. A group of convention attendees were enthusiastically chatting and enjoying the comradely of professional peers. Part of the group included a sophistically attired woman who managed to swing her shoulder bag into the waitress' full tray of drinks, crashing tray, broken glass, and a variety of alcoholic liquids onto the floor .
What happened next amazed me. The woman didn't apology to the waitress or even acknowledge that she had, indeed, caused the accident. Nor did she move away so those attempting to clean up the glass and liquid could access the area around her. Instead, she remained planted in conversation, with someone it appeared, she was hoping to impress. Her level of self-absorption was extraordinary .
When did it become okay to remain laser focused on self, at the expense of others? When did we trade common manners for uncommon rudeness? When did narcissism become our "new normal?”
I've lived in a variety of ages - from civil unrest to civil liberties, bomb-shelters to space stations, no-hope outcomes to medical breakthroughs, gender stereotypes to shattered ceilings, punch cards to smart phones. And I know this one is as temporary as a child's developmental stage. Just when the terrible-twos or the moody-teens push us beyond our patience, we meet again that wonderful, evolving person we recognize as our son or daughter, niece or nephew, student or neighbor. So, too, with our times .
For me, in the scheme of things, I find it helpful to keep that in mind. We may be living in an age-of-me, but the pendulum will shift, considerate people will reemerge from their cocoons, and our collective good wisdom will prevail, at least for a time. In the meantime, like any age, this one offers unique learning and a chance for collective evolution, interesting perspectives, and new-found insights to enable us, hopefully, to actualize a better age next time round .
© 2012 Nan S. Russell
All Rights Reserved
Nan Russell left the corporate world in 2002 to pursue a life dream to work and write from the mountains of Montana. Today she is the award winning author of Hitting Your Stride, a syndicated columnist, and motivational speaker. More about Nan and her work at http://www.nanrussell.com/ or follow her insights and tips on twitter @nan_Russell