LeAnn Wilson McGuire Writing her Right Brain column

Right Brain

by LeAnn Wilson McGuire

“Meet George Jetson. His boy Elroy. Daughter Judy. Jane, his wife!”

If you recognize that song, you’re old enough to have watched this cartoon come to life. This is how we now live. We microwave our food. Drinks pour out of our refrigerators. Robotic sweepers clean our houses. And, while we don’t yet have flying cars, hundreds of thousands of people fly to work every day.

In the cartoon, George suffers a constant finger injury because his job involves pushing a button. We get carpal tunnel syndrome from typing on our computers. Daughter Judy constantly face times with her friends — just like my daughter does today.

The Jetsons view of the future was pretty dead on. It seems crazy that so much of it has come to fruition in just 30 years.

Is this a good thing?

In many ways you’d have to say absolutely. Advances in medicine, transportation and communication have served us well. Things that used to take hours or weeks can now be accomplished in seconds. So, unlike our great grandparents, we get to grow up in a world of convenience.

But while technological advances create freedom for the Jetsons, they can create a sense of bondage for many of us today.

We’ve become slaves to being “connected.” We post everything about ourselves online. We expect to receive news as it happens. We check Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram every five minutes. And we’ve come to judge our success in life by how many followers we have.

It’s addictive to be connected at all times, but it creates anxiety as well. We’ve even coined a term for this condition: FOMO (fear of missing out).

You see it everywhere. Walking down the street, all heads are down looking at phones. In lines at the grocery store, thumbs are moving, texting and scrolling through phones. I once saw a woman at the airport topple off a moving sidewalk because she never looked up from her phone.

This kind of obsessive connectedness is unhealthy.

Too often, in our quest to connect, we are not even aware of our surroundings. Our grandparents encouraged us to stop and smell the roses. But some of us never even see the roses because we’re looking at a picture of roses on our phones.

I’m not against being connected. I love my iPhone as much as everyone else does. But all of us need to remember that real life happens offline. You’re not truly “friends” with everyone who connects with you on Facebook. Hearts on your Periscope don’t mean you are loved.

We need to put our phones down and hold our heads up when we walk down the street – so we can say hello to one another. We need to meet with the people we text with. . . for a walk. A hike. A run. Or a meal.

We need to unplug. Disconnect. And just get together and laugh. But, I’m sure there’s an app for that.