Over the weekend we reached a huge milestone in our family. Henry, my youngest child with ASD, rode the big rides at the amusement park for the first time, and he wasn’t afraid.
It turns out most amusement parks have special passes for ASD kids. You show them the pass and you get a specific time to ride, without having to wait in line. I took advantage of this the first few rides and to my delight, he not only got on the rides, but he enjoyed them. In the past, we would wait in line and when we got up to the front Huey would freak out and we would have to leave the ride.
He was so excited about the rides that after the first couple we ditched the pass, and we waited in line like everyone else. Yet, another milestone for us. Huey tends to get impatient.
After waiting in line what seemed like an eternity to go on my personal favorite rollercoaster, we finally got on the ride, rode to the top, and then suddenly stopped; hundreds of feet in the air in a tiny rollercoaster car. Then we just sat there for what seemed like an eternity (especially me, who had managed to convince my anxious 10-year-old ASD kid to get on the ride, and then had to listen to him scream “Want to get OUT. Now!!!”, as he grabbed my arms so tight I now have bruises on my right arm.
And then he spit on my arm, but that is another story for another time.
Now, I am a huge fan of rollercoasters. I love the anticipation I feel when the ride is starting, how that anticipation builds as the ride climbs to the top, the adrenaline rush that comes when the ride peaks, descends, and starts moving at high speeds and extraordinary heights; and the feel of my heart racing when the ride comes to a stop. But I do not like being stuck in the air at those extraordinary heights, or being at a complete stop for any reason.
And being stuck on a rollercoaster like that with a kid whose fear of rollercoasters was still fresh in his mind, well, that was not exactly fun.
After a few minutes, one of the ride operators made his way up towards the cars stuck on the rail. He announced the reason the ride had been stopped:
Someone had their cellphone out and was using it during the ride.
So I’m pretty sure (at least I hope ) that no one was making a phone call or worse yet, texting, while they were on the roller coaster. But I guess one never knows. Regardless of the reasons, someone had their phone out, and was using it, despite the fact that there are warnings on virtually every single ride at this amusement park that cellphone use on the rides is strictly prohibited.
Lately I have been encountered some situations where phone usage is getting in the way of real life. These are a few of the examples I can think of:
- Last week I was driving home on the freeway, which has a speed limit of 70 MPH. There are three lanes of traffic. In the middle lane, a car was driving significantly under the speed limit, and holding up the traffic behind it. When I passed the car, I noticed that the driver-a young girl, was texting with both hands, as she was resting her wrists on the steering wheel. She wasn’t even looking at the road.
- In the course of my job-which is supposed to be focused on providing a high standard of customer service I’ll be often trying to help a customer at work and they are on their phone the entire time I and helping them. I ask them a question related to their transaction and they are too busy on their phone to respond to me.
- In one of my college classes the other day, we were having a rather interesting and engaging discussion. I noticed the guy sitting ahead of me “secretly” texting the entire time during the entire duration of the class.
- I was with my friend at the U-Haul rental center, trying to get decent customer service from some very rude young ladies, whose phones were sitting out in plain sight on the counter. I had to wonder what exactly we were “interrupting.”
- On the first day of the semester I was walking to class, and encountered a girl who, judging from the look on her face was extremely lost. She was a transfer student and didn’t know what the abbreviation on her schedule meant, and needed help finding the building where her class was located. However, she had asked 4 people prior to me for help, and every single one of those people were too busy engrossed in their phones in some way to realize that someone was asking them for help.
The irony about smart phones, in particular; is that they are loaded with multiple technologies that make life more convenient, and yet, still seem to inconvenience people at the same rate. They make people more connected with the person on the other end of the phone and less connected with the person that they are actually with. They turn people into inattentive drivers, they make people inconsiderate of the people around them, and they allow people to not be fully present in the current moment.
When used properly, they are great. For example, we needed to make a pitstop on our way to the amusement park and used GPS to find our way to where we needed to go. While we were at the amusement park, we would just text/or call each other if we got separated from our group. We had many camera worthy moments, and I was able to just whip out my phone to take a picture, rather than bring one extra piece of equipment (camera) with.
But just because you can use it, doesn’t mean you should.
I admit that I’ve used my phone inappropriately. I’ve taken a non-important phone call when I should have been enjoying the company of another person; I’ve checked my email or Facebook when I was at a red light, and I’ve gotten distracted by a text message or some other type of notification on my phone. I’m sure I’m not the only one guilty of having done these things.
But on a rollercoaster??? Seriously, who does that? That’s exactly what I said; when we were hundreds of feet in the air, stopped. I said it loudly, too. I hope the person who had their phone out heard me. I suspect that the individual in question was trying to record the experience on their phone. The rollercoaster, after all; in my opinion, is one of the best ones that I have ever been on. But I’ve never thought to record the ride, or any other rides, for that matter.
Rather, I’ve chosen to do what I’ve done for years no matter what ride I’m on. I’ve sat back, buckled my seat belt, and enjoyed the moment I was in. If I enjoyed it that much, I went back on the ride; multiple times if I had to. And then I smiled, and remembered how fun it was.
Technology has its place; and it most certainly is not on a rollercoaster.