I’d like to make a confession: I don’t own a smart phone and I will not own one for as long as I can. It’s probably a bit cliché at this point, but it’s fairly obvious that people spend entirely too much time on their phones. Everywhere I go, people are out and about but that little brick of plastic and metal and whatever the hell else those things are made out of is never far away. It’s hard to resist, it seems. People out to dinner with one another are busy taking pictures of food and responding to text messages, folks walking down the sidewalk are talking to someone miles and miles away, and folks on nature hikes are checking the scores for their favorite football teams. The weight of that power is heavy. When any question you can ask can be answered in a few taps, when any person can be contacted with the press of a button, how do you put it down?
There’s so much information at our fingertips but how often are we engaged with the information directly around us? How often do we stop and breathe and soak in the life we are currently living? Fewer and fewer every day, or so it seems to me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Luddite. As a digital artist and writer, I spend entirely too much time on my PC, I know how distraction and entertainment work. I’ve just never found the concept of the smart phone terribly appealing. My PC is a powerful tool and a great source of entertainment but when I step away from the computer, my connection to that technology ends. I’ve been using a keypad cell phone for years now and I didn’t even purchase that, it was given to me by someone who was upgrading to a new phone. It’s broken, the keys don’t register accurately and often type out strings of letters when I attempt to text someone, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. When I step away from my PC, my connection to that technology more or less ends. There is no internet on my phone, no messaging app, no apps to speak of.
It’s not that we should always be engaged in the world around us, that we should never crave distraction or allow ourselves time in our own little worlds of entertainment while we’re on the bus or the subway. Not at all. That’s not even possible. It’s simply that there should be time away from these things. Enjoying time without technological distractions with some regularity helps to quiet the mind, at least it does for me and I’ve heard similar statements from many people I know. It’s all about moderation!
So if you’ve not tried it, give it a shot. Put the phone down, step outside and really experience what’s going on around you for a bit. Take a deep breath and revel in it. Feel the wonder of being alive, really alive, for just a few moments.
Don’t worry, the phone will be waiting for you when you’re done.