I was in a central Vermont hospital waiting room yesterday. Around the large room ten people were quietly sitting.
Then an older woman was wheeled in from surgery of some kind, looking good, if tired. She stared at the room, then loudly demanded, “Why isn’t the tv on?” The person wheeling her around – an attendant? a minder? – meekly found the tv, flipped it on, and quietly handed the patient a remote control. “And no news!” the wheelchair-bound woman added.
Some kind of talk show blared forth. All people in the waiting room turned to watch. Several eventually disengaged, while the rest remained fixed on the screen, even while standing.
Not a single cell phone, tablet, or laptop was visible, nor were they prohibited in this space.
Ninety minutes later I and one other person were the only people remaining in the waiting room. The other person, a middle aged woman, had seated herself as far from the tv screen as possible, and was reading a book with great attention. I took it upon myself to track down the remote and turn off the tv. The reader looked up at me from across the room, smiled, and added a quiet “thank you.”
“The future is already here, just unevenly distributed.”