Reflections on Aging Well

Author, Living with Purpose in a Worn-out Body: Spiritual Encouragement for Older Adults (Upper Room) and Columnist, Aging Well, United Methodist Reporter

What can we learn from cell phones and donuts? April 20, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — missybu @ 7:38 am

Last week I went to a bakery not far from one of the retirement communities that I visit each week.  On most Tuesday mornings, I stop by to pick up muffins or slices of banana bread for the older adults I visit.

On this particular day, I stood in line behind a young adult woman who was first-in-line at the counter.  She was talking on her cell phone with great animation and laughter while the owner of the bakery patiently looked at her, anxious to fill her order.  Instead of ending her conversation, the young woman continued to dance around the counter, pointing at muffins and donuts.  She would hold up fingers on her hand, trying to communicate how many blueberry muffins and chocolate donuts she wanted.  All the while, she continued her conversation about… nothing, really.

The episode reminded me of something I had recently heard at an older adult conference.  When the topic of grandchildren came up, an older man confessed that it was hurtful when his grandkids came for a visit but spent all their time on  their cell phones and electronic gadgets. 

“I wish they would just spend some time talking face-to-face,” he said with more than a hint of sadness in his voice. “But they’ve got their faces buried in their phones and their fingers are flying.  It makes me feel unimportant.”

His concern was affirmed by many other older adults in the room. They were not scolding… just sad.

But it’s not just young folks whose heads are buried in iPhones and iPads. I’ve seen many middle-aged folks do the same thing. We all need to understand the consequences of our behavior. It’s more than good manners. It’s about kindness and thoughtfulness… and respect.