The article, written by Newser staff member Polly Davis Doig and published earlier today, is titled “Zoo Cracks Down on Gorilla's Screen Time”. Of course, the obvious question is what in the world are gorillas doing being allowed access to social media in the first place?! It turns out that the article’s sub-title pretty much answers that question: “It Seems They Really Like Visitors' Cellphones.”
According to the article…
If you've ever had a kid, spouse, or decidedly boring date you couldn't drag away from their phone, the Toronto Zoo can commiserate. The Toronto Star reports that visitors have for some reason felt the urge to show Nassir the gorilla videos on their cellphones. "Nassir is so into those videos," says Maria Franke, the zoo's director of wildlife conservation. And like any human who's ever developed that glazed look while staring into a screen, "it was causing him to be distracted and not interacting with the other gorillas and, you know, being a gorilla. He was just so enthralled with gadgets and phones and the videos." End result being that the zoo has had to post a notice asking patrons to keep their gadgets to themselves.
It's not the first such occurrence, notes CTV News: Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo put up rope around its gorilla enclosure after a teenage gorilla named Amare started ignoring his pals in favor of visitors' cellphones. The Star reports that a gorilla at the Louisville Zoo in Kentucky, Jelani, got to the point where he would make swiping motions when he wanted visitors to move on to the next photo or video. Meanwhile, back in Toronto, the zoo isn't banning all screen time, says behavioral husbandry supervisor Hollie Ross. While "we just want the gorillas to be able to be gorillas," per CTV, the zoo does show some nature documentaries and videos of other animals. But like any guardian, "we just want to make sure that we know what they're watching."
Wow! Who’d a thunk it?! And yet, maybe the better question is: “Who wouldn’t a thunk it?!” After all, we seem to live in a world where humans are absolutely obsessed with social media. Who among us has not had the extremely frustrating experience of attempting to talk to someone, only to notice that they are completely enthralled in their smartphone?!
Or even worse, to be in the midst of a conversation with someone who, upon receiving either a phone call or a text message, immediately threw up an index finger and said, “Hold on, I really need to grab this!”? Is this not tantamount to saying that whatever conversation, project, and/or activity that one is personally engaged in at present is apparently nowhere near as important as whomever or whatever may be occurring and/or interrupting digitally?!
Here’s a thought... Could it be that whenever we behave in such ways we are actually behaving less than human?! Seriously, if you behave in any such way, one thing is arguably true - you are clearly being less than personal. Why do I say this? Because to place any electronic device, communication, notification, and/or post above any genuine personal interaction is at the very least dehumanizing to the party you have rejected in the process.
For my part, I readily admit that I freely engage in and regularly employ electronic communication. I phone, text, e-mail, post, and even “Marco” on a consistent basis. But I hope I never place such a premium on these things that they supplant doing what is truly appropriate for my status as a human being, which is to intentionally and actively engage in personal communication with my fellow man!
Remember, God Himself may have communicated with us through multiple Old Testament writers, prophets, and poets, but none of these even began to compare to what happened when He clothed Himself in human flesh and actually came into this world and spoke with us face to face in the person of Jesus Christ!
The writer of the New Testament Book of Hebrews puts it this way in his opening remarks (chapter 1, verses 1-4)…
1Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. 2And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. 3The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. 4This shows that the Son is far greater than the angels, just as the name God gave him is greater than their names.
And there you have it! The personal presence of Christ and His message was immeasurably more significant than any prior form of communication, even what came ethereally and mysteriously from the sky above!
Now, if the Gospels represent the heart of God’s message, delivered in person to us by His One and Only Son, Jesus Christ (as they surely do), then obviously we should consider the critical ongoing importance of communicating among ourselves in a just such a manner! After all, in retrospect, how foolish do those in the Gospels who placed a premium on any other engagement than spending time with Jesus face to face now look?!
Think about that the next time someone is forced to sit idly by in your presence while waiting on you to finish whatever seemingly far more important smartphone communication that you have deemed so critical!
And thereafter, stop monkeying around with things that dehumanize other people!