Friday, February 4, 2011

McDonalds or No McDonalds: That is the Question...

So I really don't like McDonalds.

Everytime I end up eating there I feel like I've sabotaged my general well-being. I mean their menu barely passes for food.

On the other hand, because of our growing family size and the invention of the McDonald's Playland, it has become one of the simplest and most relaxing places we can take our children. We can hardly resist the call of the Playland when we find ourselves in Springfield. The kids play, we drink overpriced coffee, all are happy.

But recently we had our first "bad" Playplace experience. We couldn't quite put our fingers on it, but something just wasn't right. There was a disturbance in the McForce.

Maybe it was the large & loud group of boys who were throwing their six pound monster truck toys high into the air so they crashed into toddlers heads.

Maybe it was the fact that there was grease and trash on EVERY table and seat in the place.

But I think the blame rested with the group of three young parents who sat just two tables away.

You immediately noticed them when you entered because they didn't seem to quite fit. They were in their mid to late twenties, well-dressed, fashionable hair and shoes. They had on coats they obviously didn't get from Wal-Mart or the Goodwill.

But it was none of these things that really caught my attention. It was their intent focus.

No. It wasn't on watching their children. I'm not even convinced they had children in the Playplace.

It wasn't how interested they were in passionate conversation with each other.

Actually quite the opposite.

It was their unswerving attention to their cell phones. Each of them were furiously tapping the buttons of their QWERTY pads, hunched in their chair, furrowing their brow in what can only be described as nervous concentration.

And they stayed that way.

For at least twenty minutes.

Not a look up at each other or anyone else.

Not a word to one another.

The one time I saw a small child come over and try to ask a question, they all seemed to not hear or notice.

And it was at this point that we decided to leave.

Our bastion of rest and jovial conversation was tainted by this totally antisocial behavior.

So it left me with these questions:

How do we fight this antisocial plague masquerading as "social networking"?
How do we bring back face-to-face conversation and quiet rhythms to our lives?
Should we try to reclaim the McDonald's PlayPlace or is it too far gone?

Look forward to your thoughts!


Anonymous said...

Mark, Cannon here. We've noticed the same thing in Zachary's den leaders, esp. at a Mizzou women's B-ball game. Well, Korrin did, I wasn't there, working you see. The boys loved the game, but she seemed to be the only parent paying attention to the game she paid to see with the den. I've always wanted to get a pocket jammer, even though they're illegal, so I could turn it on when I want an undisturbed conversation with someone. The funny part are the people who get in my ambulance, wanting to be transported, then get on the phone. I know I'm complaining here. Solution? I know our kids only answer phones, they can call when we give them a number, but it'll be a while before they join this merry mob of techno-kids. I can't make other people stop, but I can give them my 'Dad face' when their rudeness interferes around us.

Brittany said...

Hmmm... coming from the generation that does this, I can proudly say that I don't fall under the "phone" category. I barely touch the thing unless it's Ryan my husband texting or calling.

However, the internet has become a powerful tool and lots of people are always on facebook, making millions of updates a day about their lives.

Here is what I've found. If you text somebody, they can't interrupt, they can't yell at you. You get to say your piece without any interference from the other side. What was originally invented for the deaf, has been turned into a tool so that you get what you want to say out there! This, is unrealistic to me and not reflective of real life at all :D

Ok...I definitely use the internet a lot though. Why? I don't really know honestly. Its something that I use to talk to Far Away Family, I can post photos, and such so they can see what is happening in my life. Instead of me getting an e-mail or phone call and having to explain the last 2 years of my life :)

But that is the sad part of the story right? People go to the internet to learn about each other instead of have real life conversations. There have been people on Facebook that will friend me and never reply to anything, never give an indication that they're there. Because they just wanted that extra friend, that extra someone.

I use the internet as a tool to learn Japanese. I have my lessons on here, my pen pals, etc. To get my photography out there. Its useful in some ways...

Lastly, its getting harder and harder to make new friends...

Because we're slowly getting older? NO. Its different now. Where as it used to be hard to make friends when you got older because everyone is set in their ways and already has friends; now, it is because people would rather look you up on a social networking site, size you up and see if you look interesting, and make a decision about you before even attempting to try and get to know you. They know you before they even blink. Or at least they "think" they do.

The internet discussion is always a tough one for my generation. Because on the one hand, It has many useful uses.

On the other I think that if you are paying more attention to a screen than your spouse, your children, your family, someone should break your computer because you are missing out on a lot of Life happening around you. Clean out your online friends list and replace them with REAL friends who will actually interact with you and make you feel human. :D

Anyway, done with my weird little rant now. :)


180 Youth Ministry said...

Great comments guys!

Cannon - It's good to hear from you! I love your idea of the pocket jammer. O, how often I wish I had one of those!

Brittany - Some excellent points (and convicting! As I'm sitting here reading and posting, looking at a screen, while my family is sitting around looking at another screen. Sheesh!) I think you really hit on something with your perspective on making relationships and how social networking is used to "size up" people.