Too Tuned Out?

My family recently joined a gym.  I tend to primarily use the free weights.  “Back in the day,” you could often pair up with a gym buddy and spot one another on the bench etc.  If not, it was no big deal to simply ask someone for a “quick spot.”   However, glancing around the gym, it seems everyone has a set of earplugs in and is “tuned out.”  Thus, in order to so much as ask someone for that quick spot, I have to get their attention, have them pull a plug, and, then actually ask them a question – face-to-face, in-person.  I am reluctant to do this. I feel as if I am crossing some indistinct line.

Is it just me, or are we increasingly walking around in personal cocoons that, on some level, send a message “leave me alone”?  More importantly, as generations grow up never having experienced life without these isolating appendages, are we losing something?  Is our ability to interact as a society being affected?  And what about people who are already challenged to interact with others?  Are not these portable isolation systems little electronic enablers? 

I wonder how Temple Grandin would have fared had her mother just let he plug in and fade away.  What is the potential impact of a lifetime of being able to tune out to those with tendencies toward, or somewhere on, the autism spectrum?    Could it perhaps be, well, crippling? 

Just wondering.

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