1) Give me a call sometime…NOT. There seems to have been a major progression since the late 90’s toward a society where everyone is accessible all the time. These days, we are instantly connected through our phones to the wireless world. Not having a cell phone or land line has been one of the most difficult things I have encountered in a long time. But…after a few days of disconnect…I began to notice a certain sense of calm enter into my world. If I am at home, no one can access me if I don't want them to or use my time. It has become a deliberate act to drive into town to utilize a phone or make a social connection. So my priorities have become more realistic. There is no instant gratification or momentary connection through calling, texting or Facebooking while I am on the go. I still have my internet, but it is on my computer at home. While I am in route and away from my place of residence, there is no internet or contact of any kind. For the first time in years, I am learning to be alone with my thoughts.
2) Yes, let’s meet for coffee...and cell phones! Yep, that’s right…there is not one single restaurant or cafe booth where people are eating and drinking without their cell phones taking up a prominent space at the table. During professional meetings or casual coffee conversations, we are continuously glancing at our screens. And there’s no need to be subtle about it, because the other people at the table are doing the same damn thing! Rudeness is no longer rudeness, it has become socially acceptable to ignore others when there is a phone notification. “Oh, excuse me, I need to get this, it’ll just take a minute.” And the other person is like, “No problem, I’ll just check my email while you do that.” And suddenly, the table is quiet except for the slight sounds of keyboard or touchscreen clicking. The conversation has left the building!
Even when I still had my phone service, I would make a point of putting the cell away when my granddaughters were visiting. I did that so they could witness for themselves how important they are to me, far more important than my phone. How many adults do we see at the park doing the cell phone/internet thing while their kids are playing, begging them to watch, vying for some attention and consideration? We are teaching our children that technology is more important than human beings, which could end up becoming a detriment to our community. No child should ever feel they come in second place to a cell phone.
The fact is that personal, face to face social interactions and interesting community events are happening all around us, and yet we’re choosing to ignore them in favor of texting, tweeting and Facebooking with other people who are probably somewhere else doing something else with someone else…no doubt while texting or messaging other people who are somewhere else doing something else with someone else. Phew! This entire cell phone thing has mutated into a veritable wireless hamster wheel of social doom and destruction. Hold on a moment…I’m still kind of dizzy…
3) Our hard wiring has been rewired. The first 3 days of being cell phone free…I noticed myself grabbing at my phone to look, as if I were subconsciously mandated to check for missed calls, texts and messages at least every 2.3 minutes. I was like a coke addict searching the mirror for powder even though it had been licked clean. My GAWD, was I actually going through some sort of “withdrawal” from not having a cell phone? At first there was this feeling of urgency, as if the world would end because I could no longer check my email or Facebook or Twitter while I was in the car. The more I tried not to, the more I would find my hand digging around in the bottom of my purse, trying to find the phone. I couldn’t help myself. My brain had been rewired; I NEEDED my phone, I NEEDED to see my social accounts, I NEEDED to be accessible to everybody, all of the time!
Except, that I really don’t. You don’t. We don't. The world’s existence is not contingent upon our ability to have a perpetual, wireless presence at all times. And in fact, I would argue that less of this instant gratification way of living could possibly help solve some of the social interaction problems we are now seeing in our schools and communities.
I guess my point is that in today’s society, we have created a world of instant information and social networking with news, videos and music available upon demand. We have the wireless capability and devices to help us partake in all the internet has to offer...at any place, any time...day or night. I would even go so far as to say that this information can be useful to us in our daily existence. Cell phones have saved lives and helped us stay connected to people from across the globe. They can make life easier and more convenient by offering different options of connection even when we’re far from home.
But they are most definitely a double edged sword as well. If we find ourselves preferring to be engaged by a small piece of technology rather than by the people we love and care about, it may be time to re-evaluate our relationship with our phones.
But then again, why listen to me? I’m just a weirdo without one!
Unplug and unwind, my friends…unplug and unwind.
Wishing you lots of love and phone free joy,