Network Society Defense

Friends Connection Digital Devices Technology Network Concept

A humorous fictional tale

Rumors had been circulating twitter for months and videos were now surfacing on YouTube. I believed it to be a ruse until I had my own experience with them. Last month in the grocery store I saw one in isle 10 looking at pasta. He held a torn paper in his hand, which he glanced at occasionally. There was no evidence of anything else in his hands or even in his back pocket. Sometimes he would glance at a passerby and smile. Just before I answered a text I witnessed him talking with someone near him. It was very evident he was one of them. By the time I finished answering the text he was nowhere in sight.

Last week I came home from work mid-day to retrieve some paperwork. I was barely out of the car when I spotted two of them walking toward me on the sidewalk. A man and a woman chatting and laughing. I looked for headphones, an armband, or a smart watch, but they didn’t appear to have any of those on them, which explained their strange behavior. I needed to get the mail but unfortunately I would have to cross their paths in order to reach the mailbox. Then one of them spotted me. First he made eye contact and then he smiled. I nodded in return, closed the car door, and walked as quickly as possible to the house but not so fast as to appear alarmed. Once inside, I leaned against the door breathing heavily.

A chill swept over me as I thought about what happened this morning during a routine visit to the doctor’s office. I was sitting in a room with 20 other people waiting for a nurse to call out our names. The employees behind the registration desk quietly entered data as patients came in. Except for an occasional cough no one in the room was speaking; everyone was engaged with various media on their devices. All heads were half bent forward, thumbs were scrolling up and down. Sometimes someone would lean in to another person to show them something.

A maid came in the front automatic doors, pushing a large cleaning cart. She pushed the cart over to the men’s room and set up a half fold sign to let people know the bathroom would be closed. I looked up briefly to watch the cart pass by when a strange feeling came over me. I looked at a row of chairs across from me. My pulse increased then my eyes helplessly locked with hers. I looked behind me. No one was there. When I looked at her again she smiled. I nervously smiled back then quickly looked down at my phone.

I slouched down into the thin padded chair and subtly positioned my phone toward her. My Snapchat video would tell of my own encounter with one of them. The woman didn’t seem to notice the phone pointed her direction. I was sure to “scroll” the screen with my thumb and occasionally “smile” at a “video” I wasn’t watching. I hit stop, then played the video back. I was appalled to see her in the video with her hands in her lap as she calmly looked around the room. When she made eye contact with someone she would smile. This seemed to be a pattern I was observing with these kind. She even asked someone close to her a question. I shivered. There must be something wrong with these people. I posted it to Snapchat when I became aware that she was walking toward me and trying to make eye contact again. I looked down at my phone but she was still coming. She sat in the chair next to me. A door near the registration counter opened and a nurse called my name. I ran to the open door barely escaping the encounter.

I came home determined. People had to know. This behavior could potentially spread. With quickened fingers I told the tale for my latest blog. I wanted people to know how to defend themselves against them. It was entitled Network Society Defense. Before posting it, I read it aloud:

“Circle together and keep your heads bent into your devices. Communicating should be tightly bound within the various methods of social media. There are those in our midst who go out into the world with no means of media connection. They even seem to be aware of us and will try to initially make eye contact. Once they succeed at this they will try to make an audible exchange of thoughts (an archaic form of conversation). I believe my recent encounters with them were heightened by the lack of headphones, which I have now purchased. Isolating into our connection is the best defense against those who are not connected. Spread the news on all channels of social media and listen to the rumors. There really are those who walk among us completely aware.”

I hit “publish” on my WordPress platform. I had done my part. I bent my head half forward to lean into the glow coming from my hand. I smiled. Snapchat had released Easter filters early!

Tina D. Stephens

Author of The Common Hours




Finding Serenity in a Chaotic World

McWay Waterfall along CA HWY 1
McWay Waterfall along CA HWY 1

Recently I was able to visit McWay Falls in California, a rare “tidefall” which is only visible from a footpath at the edge of California Highway 1. This waterfall tumbles from steep cliffs onto a small beach washed by aqua-blue water. I couldn’t help thinking as I looked at it, how wonderful it would be to rest on that beach or to walk under the waterfall. I looked for a path down but it became quickly evident it was only accessible by water.

I have been reflecting on the importance of serenity, for some time, especially in our chaotic world. I started thinking about McWay Falls: a private beach and waterfall paradise. What I did not mention about McWay Falls was the crowd of people who clamored at the edge of the cliffs to take pictures of this beautiful sight. Similar to the crowd on those cliffs, I think there are a lot of people wanting to experience serenity in life only to find it seemingly inaccessable.


Like every human I’ve had many days where I have experienced stress. I had an experience a few years ago that made me realize I needed some serenity in order to be a healthy mom and human. I was busy with a big project at work when I received a phone call from the school principal. One of my kids had gotten in enough trouble that it required a meeting with me and the school principle. After the meeting with the principal, I dropped my teen off at the house, ran to the store to figure out dinner, then rushed back home to cook dinner. After eating, my husband and I started cleaning up and helping with homework. Homework involved two hours of Math, class projects, and tears. Eventually I escaped to the backyard, where I often retreat, to watch the sunset in peace. About the time I settled into my adirondack chair with my ice tea in hand, a police helicopter starting circling. I remember looking up and thinking “really?” That was the moment I began my quest to find the elusive serenity in my chaotic world.

During my quest I realized I was stuffing every down moment with answering emails, texts, and browsing social media on my all efficient smart phone. Not only was I busy with work and children, I wasn’t taking any time to relax and recharge. I started to take small steps in changing my habits. At first I was uncomfortable because I felt unproductive if I wasn’t filling every moment with action. I started with small steps which you will see below. I’m hoping to provide a boat today for you to find your way to the inaccessable beach.

  1. Enjoy morning coffee without my phone or tv. This is often done on the back porch where I enjoy watching the clouds or small wildlife that venture into the yard.
  2. Stand in check-out lines with my phone in my purse. This was very uncomfortable at first. I ended up seeing a few friends I would have missed if I had been on my phone, or I would simply enjoy a moment free from texts. Standing in line without the phone was an easy way to grab a peaceful moment in a busy day, and (as the mother of 4 teens) I stand in grocery lines often.
  3. Watch the sunset every night the weather permits. It’s easy to let a day go by where you never get outside except to walk from a building to a car. Going outside to watch the sunset reminds me how big the world is and how big God is. My problems or stress become small. Not only did God make this world, he made it beautiful like maybe he wanted us to enjoy it.
  4. Take a nap on my day off from work. Again it’s easy to think this is unproductive but resting will recharge your brain and your energy. On days I cannot fall asleep I lay down and read a book.
  5. Zen doodle or grown up coloring. I have always enjoyed doodling, I find it helps with my memory retention and creativity. I took to Pinterest this year to learn zen doodling. Here’s a link to my board. Tina’s doodle art board on Pinterest. You can also find coloring books online for grown up coloring. Don’t laugh, this has become such a big trend that these coloring books are often out of stock. Here are some zen doodle I drew which you can download and color. Please feel free to share your colored results to my email at gypsywind pdf.underwaterDownload underwater .pdf
  6. Play the piano for fun. This applies to any hobby. Participate in something you enjoy not to learn something new, but to purely enjoy it. For me, playing the piano is very relaxing and enjoyable.
  7. Lie in a hammock outside and watch the clouds. 
  8. Sit in the grass on a blanket and read a book. 
  9. Take a walk or hike for fun, not fitness. I like to occassionally walk or hike when I can feel free to stop as often and as long as I want, to enjoy the scenery or a flower or some wildlife.
  10. Savor more memories to myself than the number of them I share on social media. I’m learning to take life in and savor it just for me or just for my family. As soon as I share it on social media I’m waiting for ‘likes’ or opinions. It’s good to keep some things in my heart where it can continue to warm my soul. I know that was really cheesy but I think you know what I mean.

10. Yoga or Holy Yoga. Stress can make your muscles knot up which can cause back and neck pain. Yoga is a great way to stretch and relax and it increases balance. Holy yoga accomplishs this while listening to relaxing christian music and to scripture being read. Here is the facebook page of a local holy yoga instructor whom I recommend. Holy Yoga instructor in Scottsdale.

That’s it for this Friday. Enjoy your weekend and find time for serenity in your life.  Go ahead, get on that boat and float to your deserted beach; you will be better for it (and so will your family).

Tina Stephens

author of The Common Hours, available on

-the photo I took above of McWay Falls can be downloaded as a computer desktop background to remind you about serentiy-

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