By now, we’re all accustomed to the world of multitasking.
We don’t go anywhere without being “plugged in” — no matter what to.
It seems we now walk our dogs in one hand while in the other, we satisfy Facebook by answering its recurrent question, “What’s on your mind?” People walk the Boulevard and stop to laugh at those funny mobile apps that turn your 125-pound self into a 300-pound version of you. Or better yet the ones that scan a picture of your face to scientifically determine your percentage of ugly.
We kill time on our lunch breaks with a few rounds of Words With Friends, or a couple of scrolls through the latest Instagrams trending on our newsfeed. We withdraw money from the ATM machine while clenching onto the conversation with our mother with one ear smooshed to one shoulder. And thank God for the ringing reminders of business meetings we would otherwise forget all about. We seem to rely on these four-inch hunks of plastic for, well, close to most everything.
So, in a world where all this is normalcy, I’m not sure why I was so surprised last Sunday during my trip to Talbot Rink for the regular “free skate” session when I realized that being an avid skater also meant being an avid smart phone multitasker, too.
Since I hadn’t been skating since last year, I was worrying about my balance, if I could remember how in the world to skate backwards, and how hard it would be for my boyfriend and I to keep my three-year-old cousin Daphne on her feet for longer than a half a second. What I really should have been worrying about was weaving in and out of Instagramers, and videographers, and business calls, and one handed texting and skaters.
The whole thing seemed weird. Ice skating to me is nostalgic. I remember being so excited to go to this same rink and skate for a few hours with my friends, try to do spins, or race each other around one lap. But I don’t think any of those times involved a cell phone — not one. This was a new phenomenon.
A Nana in a dusty blue parka holds a glowing smile as she captures, on her i-Phone4, her granddaughter’s first attempts at skating backwards. A father encourages his daughter’s skills with a head nod and extends one arm out to her for help while the other hand holds his cell phone to his hooded ear. We were dodging people waiting to take the perfect picture as they held their i-Phones sideways and squinted their eyes, smiling behind the lens as if that would help the others smile more.
It felt so wrong. Ice skating never hinged on cell phone use before. But then I found myself joining in.
I was juggling gloves and i-Phones to get the perfect picture of Daphne penguin stepping her way across the ice. I even rushed to video my boyfriend whizzing by me because I thought it would make a cool Cinemagram (yet another mobile app). I even managed to send a quick picture to my Facebook page.
We don’t just capture moments to keep them anymore; we capture them to share them. I mean, it seems we can’t even drink a margarita or eat a pizza without snapping a picture and sharing it first, so why would your three-year-old grandchild’s first trip to the rink be any less share worthy?
My trip to the rink was a learning experience, aside from what I may have thought before; it seems our need to stay connected doesn’t freeze when we hit the ice.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a few notifications to peek at.
Emily daSilva is a Gloucester resident, a graduate of Gloucester High School and Endicott College, and a former intern and occasional correspondent with the Gloucester Daily Times.