I’ll set the tone. Donnie and I have been together for the better part of 10 years (almost). Comfort levels have been well established — but instead of wanting to know how my day went, he wants to know the current standings of the NFL and instead of me asking how his big presentation went I check to see how many likes my staged picture on Instagram got. We just spent an hour making a beautiful meal (that I’ll Snapchat later) and have opened a bottle of my favorite wine to appropriately complement it. We sit down at the table with a candle lit and our iPhones remain as the third wheel. I’m eating with a fork in my right hand and scrolling with my left (I am not ambidextrous so you can imagine this is an easy task). I struggle, but manage.
But seriously! Do we ever fully return our undivided attention to our companion, or is half our brain still scanning the digital world for information? There is no rest for the screen-stimulated brain.
The more we allow our device to control our attention, the more we feel like we are missing out on something, and this is certainly not a feeling we welcome. Aside from life-and-death emergencies, and other such situations where we require instantaneous feedback, the information will be there whether we address our device every ten minutes, every hour, or once a day.
Have we totally forgotten our manners? Disengaging from the people you are sitting with at a dinner table is something our parent’s would shame us for.
1. Cell phones have become our crutch.
Not many people will argue this. Who wants to live with something you are utterly dependent on? Think about what we use our phones for now. Directions, browsing photos of strangers, checking the weather two weeks in advance, texting our friends, scheduling our lives, playing games, using Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, the list goes on and on. Basically, our cell phones have become a one-stop-shop for everything we need to do in life.
Don’t get me wrong, all of the aforementioned things are essential to any person living a modern day life, but there are other ways we can go about completing these tasks. Ways that a more directly connected generation (reference your parents) had managed to live with.
Taking Pictures. Does anyone keep a photo album anymore? What if Facebook were to suddenly crash and all of the precious photos from your high school days were gone forever? I’d like to hold on to my memories of a 2007 toga house party, and that time I spent with my friends after prom!
Talking to friends. Call them, go visit them, have lunch or coffee with them. Conversation is stimulating. Wouldn’t you rather see their lovely face then read the words they sent you via text message? We too often pass up these opportunities to go be with our friend’s because of the simplicity there is in just texting them.
Scheduling. Write in a planner like your 10-years-old again. Call it an experiment.
Playing games. Go play Scrabble or get aggressive over a game of monopoly. There’s more competitiveness in it when you play with people and not just yourself.
Disconnect, I dare you.
2. Our poor children don’t stand a chance.
As technology continues to advance our children will become less connected on personal levels and more connected on technological ones. I think we’ve all made the joke by now that our kids will see an iPhone 5 the way we see Zack Morris’ prehistoric device. If that’s the case, what kind of unimaginable piece of technology will our children be using?
When I needed to do a school project, I went to the library on my bike and made copies of books and encyclopedias to paste on my poster board. My mom would patiently wait as I meticulously would hand write captions under my photocopied pictures. There were no easy answers that Google could provide.
If I wanted to see a friend from school, I picked up my home phone and called their home phone and asked their parents if they could come out and play. Or even better, I’d walk to their house and knock on the door. I feel like everyone knows a family now that doesn’t even bother with home phone because everyone in their unit has a cell phone instead. We don’t have a home phone- I wouldn’t answer it just like I don’t answer my door when someone knocks on it unexpectedly.
God knows my children are going to think I’m a fossil, or worse, they won’t even be able to comprehend why I would encourage them to do such things because by then cell phones will be so second nature. How can we be examples for our children when it comes to personal interaction if we don’t value these ideals ourselves?
3. There is so much natural beauty in the world that we are missing.
Vacations have become a way of clogging Instagram feeds that make non-vacationing people feel awful. You’re supposed to do that when you get back, remember? Vacations were designed for us to get away from our stresses and relax. My fiance once yelled at me for wanting to pull over the car on a road trip so I could take a photo of something. The response I got was a pained, “Ugh, can’t you just remember it?” The answer is yes, yes we can.
Go ahead; take some vacation photos for the previously mentioned photo album but please, can we spend more time going for walks, enjoying the company of our loved ones and soaking up the aura of beautiful landscapes with nothing more than our minds.
4. Nothing is private anymore.
Imagine our parents and their parents before them. They knew who they knew and that was it. A new face came with a one-on-one interaction. They went about their days for however many years and everything they ever did was for them, their families, and their friends to know about and remember. There weren’t 1,000 other people watching their every move. Unless you were of celebrity status, a life was a private thing. They had no idea what their sister’s friends girlfriends newborn looked like, nor did they care. They had no idea what the person in their English class looked like half-naked unless they took them on a date first. There was a whole world of things going on around them and they were blissfully unaware. Call it a mystery but look at this way, there was more to discover.5. We don’t know the last effects.
If it’s not enough that cell phones are unhealthy addictions, how about that they may be unhealthy to us in a physical sense. They create electromagnetic fields, and we haven’t lived with them long enough to determine the long-term health effects they may have on us. The hypochondriac in me panics a little every time my boyfriend puts his work phone and his personal phone in the SAME pocket. Here’s to hoping we aren’t making the same mistake we made with promoting tobacco 65 years ago.
I challenge you to put your phone down for an entire day. If you manage to live through it, put it down for an entire week. At least give yourself the opportunity to be independent and not have to succumb to a device for 3.9 years of your life.