February Community 2022

Love the Experience! Get OFF the phone

By Shellie Miller-Farrugia

Music has always been a Love of mine. A few short years ago was the first time I went to a concert and the primary focus of the audience WAS NOT solely on the performers. While expectations of big venues, interactive crowds and the amazing sight of pyro and technical light shows are some of what encouraged me to attend, what I found was quite different and a bit disarming. As the band took the stage and the crowd cheered, immediately a sea of blue screens came to light as a vast majority of attendants recorded the concert for social media posts and future viewing. The experience of a live concert, to me, is the actual occurrence of everything happening around me. From the people I’ve never met who share my row, or stand in front of me and block my view, all the way to that couple with up front seats who can’t help but get up and dance on their chairs, make out, and crowd surf, in previous years I would leave every venue with a sense of real community and participation. After the last few concerts I’ve gone to, I feel that the portable convenience of cell phones has made the entire occurrence less memorable, both to myself and the people who are recording the event.

And please don’t get me started with texting and driving! So many of us “love” to drive. We love the open road, the sense of adventure, and the freedom of a day out. How many lives do we need to lose because someone wanted to reply to a message or a post on Facebook instead of enjoying the friends who were riding with them, the experience of the world outside, or the anticipation of a destination?

A horse lover and trainer my entire life, I am very experienced with regard to most everything equine. Horses, having minds of their own despite expert training, can still be unpredictable. Riding them is not for the faint of heart, but for people who have a deep love for the great outdoors, a fellow being, and a sense of adventure. Having been a passenger in several ambulances after rides gone awry, I can attest to the fact that a terrific temperament can’t predict everything. It’s a bit like driving a car; if it was foreseeable, it wouldn’t be called an accident.

So many happy memories have come from trail rides, whether I’ve been alone on my favorite steed, or with a crowd of friends talking about everything under the sun. How appalled was I last week to see three girls riding their trio of horses down my street, each of them focused on their cell phone? They weren’t talking to each other, and their animals were in a position to do whatever they chose. I shudder to think about catastrophic outcomes. When did we decide that loving the experience was not as valuable as a text message?

I challenge you to arrange for an annual family photoshoot instead of interrupting precious moments with dozens of daily snaps. I encourage you to take your child to the park and play WITH them. Leave your phone in the car. Look your baby in the face and TELL them they are beautiful, smart and talented instead of putting their picture on Instagram or Facebook and receiving validation from people you might not see except for an occasional party, wedding or funeral. If you want to chat with a friend, make time for them IN PERSON.

Things go by so quickly…Love the experience of living life in real-time!

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