Saying the Metro in Paris is an interesting place is like saying there is art in the Louvre. You’ll see fashion, families and fascinating artwork. Yet, as I observed this summer, nobody is observing the world around them. That’s right – everyone, yes practically everyone, is looking down at an electronic device. It wasn’t that way 14 years ago when my husband and I were in Paris before the advent of portable touch-screen technology. This time around with teenagers in tow, we were excited to show them this unique city. Explore we did, yet everywhere on both the subway and sidewalk, people were glued to their screens. I’m not throwing Europeans under the bus, as tourists from far and wide also seemed more enthralled with their phones than the sights.
Perhaps this observation about lack of observation made me even more adamant about noticing the kind eyes of the woman who plucked our pastry out of the case, or the artist who casually waved us over to see his work and now a piece of it hangs in my foyer in Indianapolis. What are we missing by not looking up? Connection. You don’t have to travel across an ocean to notice and appreciate everyday life. The songbird outside my window. A neighbor walking his plucky three-legged dog. A sense of wonder and connection can come from simply looking up. Do I want to give up my phone? Never, yet I am focused on strategic use of my screens. I’m determined to not let technology suck my eyes down when they should be looking up to take in a sunset – or the Eiffel Tower. Hey world, look up!