Even though I am American, having lived in the United States most of my life, the 8 years I spent in the Dominican Republic shifted my perspective. I am from here yet not, oddly similar to the way I felt when I lived overseas. There, I related so much and yet felt so different. Here I know the language, the culture yet I see it as an outsider, as an ex-patriot.
So as I toil to advance my life, even if it is inch by inch, I watch. I observe like an outsider, just the way I did in Santo Domingo as a foreigner.
What I observe is so many people, specifically parents because those are who I have the most contact with, who are moving through their day completely plugged into to their various devices and completely tuned out to those around them, especially their children.
I embrace technology. Without technology my career would be radically different. With it, I can work at home with clients worldwide. So for me technology is vital. But it is a tool, a valuable tool and that’s it.
I’m just commenting on what I’ve seen: the mother walking into pre-k while staring at her phone the entire time, barely raising her head to see if her child gets into class. Or the father who does the same during the entire boyscout meeting for his son, while his son tugs on his father’s pantleg for his attention. There are tons more examples.
I’m not saying they are bad people. We are all busy I know and the American culture pushes us to be busy: work harder, accumulate more — multitask. But it comes with a price. We can only do so much so if we are focusing on our phones or other gadgets we are missing other things, missing life.
In the Dominican Republic everyone is obsessed with their cell phones so this is by no means an American phenomenon. The difference is the other cultural elements that combine with the technology temptations. In the Dominican Republic, there is a stronger emphasis on family unity than in this country. Families eat together and it is normally a home-cooked meal. Here, families are on the move, shuffled from one activity to the next because there is this pressure to offer your children all opportunities possible.
But these opportunities cost money which means we need to work harder do more.
Now I have no idea if the people I observed were multitasking or just addicted to their phones but I just see so many people who are going through their day looking to their phones instead of the world around them. I left this country because I didn’t want this part of the culture — this race to accumulate, this pressure to earn. I wanted a balanced life with family and rest as well as hard work. I had that for a while in the Dominican Republic, when my business was doing well. I’m working towards that life once again.