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Slow Down This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


     A man sits in stop-and-go traffic on a rainy Mondaymorning, frustrated because he is already 15 minutes late for work and still hasanother 15 to go before he gets there. Seeing the traffic backed up for miles, heturns on the radio and flips through the stations. With one hand he holds hisbreakfast from McDonald's drive thru; with the other he uses his cell phone tocall work and report that he'll be late. As he hangs up, he drops part of hisbreakfast, leaving a stain on the new tie he purchased on the Web. He swears,tosses the phone into the passenger seat and frantically searches the glovecompartment for a napkin. He does not notice that the car in front of him hasstopped, and rear ends a young woman. When the police ask what happened, the mansays, "She stopped too fast. I couldn't react in time."

Thisscenario may seem unrealistic to some, but for others, everything but theaccident is a daily occurrence. Somehow, life has become so fast-paced that ithas become imperative to find the quickest way to accomplish things, often doingthem all at once. In theory it is great to save time and energy, but one can takethis mindset so far that he or she misses out on the simple things, or evenendangers others.

Technology has brought us to the point where we can domany things simultaneously without leaving the comfort of our homes. For this"luxury," however, we sacrifice human contact, fresh air and theability to concentrate on one thing without feeling guilty for "wastingtime." Life would be so much easier and more enjoyable if people could slowdown once in a while.

The Internet has made it possible to go anywhere inthe world without leaving home. With an Internet connection, one can groceryshop, listen to music, get the latest news, traffic and weather, research anytopic, auction off unwanted belongings, instant message many people at once - youname it. So, what's the problem? Isn't this what everyone wants? To be able toavoid long check-out lines at the grocery store? To be connected to the world andreach anyone anytime? Well, yes. But with that connection comes addiction.

When the emails start coming at the rate of 200 per day and one findsoneself searching AOL member profiles to make friends, one may be talking to thecomputer screen more than to real people. A friend told me that to avoid gettinginto a long conversation he does not have time for, he writes a quick email whenhe really should call. Unfortunately, these types of friendships quickly lose anypersonal touch, and friends go from being people to screen names. It gets to thepoint where most free time is consumed by the computer at the expense of readinga book, visiting family members or just sitting on the porch enjoying the viewand life.

I am involved in many activities and spend a lot of time in thecar. This driving time has become almost sacred because it is often the only timeI have to be by myself and think. Many Americans see hours spent in the car as achunk of time to make use of; they can't afford to waste it with frivolous thingslike reflection. I actually know a girl who reads while she drives. "Umm ...isn't that dangerous?" I asked. She laughed and said, "I only read atred lights."

With the many ways people use their driving time,it's no wonder there are so many car accidents. Unexpected things can happen inthe blink of an eye, and if a driver is occupied with a phone, food or book, heor she may not see the raccoon in the middle of the road. Some communities aremaking it illegal to talk on the phone while driving, but so many people rely ontheir cellular phones that even the threat of a fine would not stop them.

A friend of mine sent me a poem (via email): "You'd better slowdown, don't dance so fast. Time is short, the music won't last." Reading itreminded me that sometimes I dance so fast I miss the music. I am always thinkingabout the next thing I have to do and I forget to enjoy what I'm doing at themoment. It's even harder when I'm trying to do four things at once. I know I'mnot alone.

People have so much to do it's gotten to the point where theycan't even eat all their meals at a table. Through history, meals have beensocial events where people relax and catch up on each other's lives. Now, wecatch up by staring at a computer screen.

What happened to the days whenpeople sat on their front porches and watched kids jump rope in the street? Evenif people were to sit outside, there would be nothing to watch because all thekids are inside playing computer games. The few who might be outside can't playin the street anyway because there are too many people doing too many things intheir cars for the streets to be safe.

Life would be much easier ifeveryone could just slow down and enjoy what they are doing. Too manyopportunities are lost because of the "I'm too busy" syndrome. We don'thave to "Run so fast to get somewhere, you miss half the fun of gettingthere," as the poem says. People lived rich, full lives before the Internetor cellular phones, so there is no reason why they should rely on them today.Stop and smell the roses - it's something Americans should think about.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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