The sand storm blew with furry rattling the windows of the cheap hotel we were staying in. It was the first day travelling with the latest tour group who were paying my company for our interpretation services. The group was gathered in one of the rooms having breakfast and I entered to make a few suggestions of things we could do or see even in spite of the blowing dust.
The group remained rather unresponsive. All of them had their heads bent intently over their fancy phones from the states. Occasionally one person would chuckle and move their phone over a few inches so the person beside them could gaze at the screen and join in the joke. A few seconds later another guy across the room felt it important to update us all on the score from some sort of ball game they had all missed during their flight over.
I decided to cut them all some slack, I knew they were all still suffering from jet lag and the unpleasant prospect of going outside only to get coated in 12 layers of sand was not very motivating for any of us to head outside. I hoped the longer we were on the road and the more they witnessed the wonder of this place the more excited they would get by their new surroundings.
But the phone obsession continued and the groups need to stay connected with the world outside only grew as the week went on. We were walking down the cobbled stone streets passing women selling brightly hand stitched hats, or men slaughtering sheep and hanging the fresh meat to sell from their butcher hook. On the corner a group sat on the ground pulling fresh flower petals off their stems, adding sugar and grinding them into a sweet jam like spread. Nearby young children clad in split pants played a game of poggs, while a donkey snorted as he pulled his old wooden cart packed with grain up beside us.
The sight was everything I love about my life here and I stole a glance at my travel companions to make sure they were drinking it all in and appropriately enjoying the moment. Instead of gazing with fascination at the scene in front of them, instead of eagerly learning about this new place that they had flown across the world to see… I noticed the attention was once again focused only on their phones. I tried to bite back a response and hold in my disgust. But a comment of disapproval slipped out and the group told me that everyone in the west now a days was shackled to their phones.
Okay, so not all of them were that bad... but it did get me thinking. Is that true? Is this what I have to look forward to next time I’m home? Have conversations really turned into two people in the same room texting to each other from different phones?