Things are getting out of hand. People spend way too much time on their trampolines. I remember when we used to have actual conversations. Families once had a single trampoline for the home, which everyone shared. It was kept in the backyard. Now everyone has their own personal, smaller trampoline, which they take with them everywhere they go. You meet someone for coffee and they bring along their trampoline. They won’t even make eye contact. They’re too concerned with whatever’s happening on their trampoline. Trampolines were supposed to bring us closer together, but I think they’re driving us further apart.
Take last night, for example. It was my birthday and some friends and I gathered at a pub to celebrate. It was a beautiful night and we wanted to sit outside, but there wasn’t any room for us — a table of five had their trampolines with them, cluttering the patio. Regardless, we found a spot inside and things actually started out great. My friends arrived, we ordered drinks, we laughed about old times. I opened gifts — Suzie got me a trampoline cover with my initials embroidered on it. After a while, however, I realized that nobody was talking. They were all on their trampolines. My friends wouldn’t even look at the server when he came by, instead mumbling their orders mid-bounce. How rude, I thought. And then I looked around the room: everyone was focused on their trampolines. The entire bar was mindlessly leaping, spilling their drinks, and ducking mid-air so their heads wouldn’t hit the ceiling. Even one of the servers was fixated on a small trampoline she kept behind the bar, change rattling in her apron as she ignored the customers.
It’s not just social activities. Trampolines are beginning to affect my work. I’m a college professor and you wouldn’t believe these kids and their trampolines. For a while, I couldn’t hear my own voice deliver the lecture over the sound of squeaking trampoline springs. I instituted a “No Trampolines in the Classroom” rule, but half the class still tries to sneak them in. They think I won’t notice if they bounce quietly, but I do. If I catch a student twirling through the air at the back of the class, it’s a safe bet they’re using a trampoline.
Everything’s changed. Nobody lives in the moment anymore. A few weeks ago, I went to a U2 concert. Remember when crowds used to raise their lighters during a ballad? Now everyone holds up their trampolines. I couldn’t see the stage during “Where the Streets Have No Name.” Even Bono had a little trampoline next to his mic stand for between-song hand springs.
It’s impacting my home life, too. My wife and I had to ban trampolines at the dinner table. The kids were upset at first, but they’ve come around. Family meals should be a time for everyone to gather together and discuss their lives, not acrobatic free-for-alls. Plus it’s a choking hazard.
People aren’t paying attention to the world around them. It’s dangerous. The other day, I almost hit someone with my car. A man had his trampoline out in the middle of an intersection. There he was, mindlessly jumping up and down, completely unaware of the oncoming traffic. Luckily, I hit the brakes in time. Was this guy’s backflip so important he couldn’t wait until he’d crossed the road?
Now listen, I’m no Luddite. I’ll be lined up outside the trampoline store with everyone else when the new trampoline is released. I see the positives. When my wife is walking home from work, I feel more secure knowing that she has her trampoline with her. That if someone were to attack her, she could quickly set up her trampoline and leap to safety. And it’s definitely comforting to know my grandparents have trampolines with them, in case they take a fall. Instead of lying helpless on the kitchen floor for hours, they’ll bounce right back up. I won’t deny that advancements in trampoline technology have brought a lot of good to our lives.
I just think we need to cut back, significantly. Spend less time on our trampolines. Really engage with our surroundings. I saw this thing where an artist put together a series of photographs of people going about their day, except he removed all of the trampolines. A family having a picnic on the beach, a young couple in bed, commuters on the subway, etc. With their trampolines photoshopped out, these people look sad and ridiculous. There they are, inexplicably soaring through the air, oblivious to the fact that they are seconds away from falling to the ground. We are these people. We are falling. And one day our precious trampolines won’t be there to catch us.