Technology and smart phones have had a tremendous impact on our daily lives, there is no doubt about that. They have revolutionized the way we do business, and have connected us to the entire wealth of human knowledge that is now just a few clicks away. We are connected to our world in ways we couldn’t have imagined 20 years ago when it took three and a half minutes to dial up an Internet connection on the huge clunky PC in the corner desk of the family room. Today we have the instant gratification of Googling mundane facts that enable us to win arguments with friends over song lyrics or who really invented the toilet in real time. It really is a beautiful thing. Are we in fact more connected to one another or have we become addicted to the comfortable little buffer zone of a tiny glass screen that separates us from the world at large?
Where is the line between a tool that brings us information, communications and social media right to our fingertips and the cage that separates us from genuinely connecting with others? We should all know where that line is because we spend most of our day inside the cage. After all, we feel less vulnerable there. It’s like a tiny force field surrounds us as we interact with the world from the safety of a keypad and a little glowing screen.
I see it every time I am in public, when I am not staring into the abyss myself that is. People walking down the street, driving down the road and walking through stores, at the movies, at the beach…all mindlessly staring, scrolling, posting. See if the following scenario sounds familiar: You’re out to dinner with some friends. After a couple of group selfie sessions, a few of your buds post some pics while the waitress tries to interrupt your love affair with your device by trying to get your drink order. The notifications are already chiming alerts across the table as people pick up and check their phones. Conversation doesn’t flow too well, and the most often words spoken become things like “hold on…”, “just a sec…So-and-so just commented” and “I’m sorry, I wasn’t listening”. Under the thinly veiled guise of connection, we have gloriously disconnected ourselves from the moment. Devices are only placed on the table when the food comes, yet there are some who can eat and scroll with expert ease. What the hell, people? Don’t we realize that we are not only being horribly rude to one another, but we are missing the entire point of connecting with each other?
I have recently tried to examine my smartphone addiction by deciding where and when I absolutely need to have my phone with me. Dare I say most people can’t leave a room without their phone, and this rule is applied from the moment they wake up until the moment they go to bed? Panic sets in quickly when we misplace it, like the poles will shift wreaking havoc on the Earth if we are separated for too long. Being self-employed, my big excuse is that I can’t afford to miss a single work inquiry. This is such complete and utter bullshit. My business will not fail miserably if I leave my phone at home or in my car when I go out for the evening or even for a spell during the work day. I get two calls a year after 6 pm for work, so who am I kidding? My other, more subtle excuse (perhaps closer to a weird fear than an actual excuse) is that I will miss something. How many times a day do you check Facebook, Snap Chat or Instagram? Would you be embarrassed to answer that question honestly? If you are, then perhaps it’s time to set some restrictions on yourself and the device that rules you.
Make the decision today to actually enjoy your life. Step away from the phone. Step out of the cage. Make lunch and dinner outings a phone-free affair. Ban devices from the dinner table and living room at home. Delete social media apps from your phone. Have a real face to face conversation. Get on the floor and play with your children. Share laughs and tears in real time with real people. Look up from the artificial cyber world and witness the beauty that is all around us. Better than that, participate in it. Leave the phone at home. Life doesn’t have to be photographed, posted and captioned to make it real. Being present in the moment and genuinely connecting with each other does.
photo from Deposit Photos