Ever spent a day without your phone? You should give it a try!
I remember growing up in Nottingham, in a house with a black and white TV and no phone. Some of you reading this may already be scared and confused.
“No phone … what the … seriously?”
This isn’t the start of a Steampunk Fiction novel with coal-powered machinery instead of quantum computers and laser beams. This is a true story and it was perfectly normal in those days not to have a phone in the house.
But here’s the thing, there was a box at the end of the road; a nice shiny red one with the word “Telephone” boldly painted on a white background positioned under a fascia with a gold crown on its top that smelt like a public toilet when the weather turned warm. You could feed this magical box a halfpenny coin, put your finger in a dial with holes over numbers and letters, turn the dial in a clockwise direction and release. You could hear circuits click and cables connect and somehow, quite amazingly, you could be talking to someone miles away arranging to meet at the The Trip to Jerusalem for a pint of best. It was technology at its peak.
We somehow survived this primitive phonelessness. It hardly seems possible, I know. I mean, doesn’t the world stop rotating if we don’t check who called, who messaged, who posted, who liked and who followed?
No phone? Imagine that.
I’m sure the very thought of no smart phone sends chills down the spine of every millennial hipster, but I left mine at home the other day; deliberately and on purpose! I actually left the house with the kids to go to the mall without the one thing that connects us to the rest of the world!
Don’t tell social services, I might get arrested for some bizarre act of child cruelty. “Excuse me Sir, but we have reason to believe you are deliberately endangering the results of Candy Crush and in so doing denying your children the right to post their results on Instagram.”
But it felt great!
I’ll be honest, it was a little disturbing at first, like walking out of the house naked. Not that I do that anymore. Not since the neighbours began complaining. The paranoia was strong. Everyone knew, I thought. “He’s got no phone!” I sensed people looking at me kind of weird again. How do they know? I know they know!
This shouldn’t have been such a big deal, I mean we don’t need our smart phones to leave the house do we? Do we really need one to go to the mall to see a movie? Is every message, every tweet, every plate of food and every selfie so important? I mean really? We’re smarter than that! Aren’t we?
It seems our very existence is now part of a digital matrix. We have the attention span of goldfish and what little attention we have left seems to be completely focused on being part of some social network letting people know our opinion on something we’d never even heard or cared about that may or may not even exist or be true. Wasn’t it Abraham Lincoln who said not to believe everything you read on Facebook?
Our thumbs are too busy tapping to care. We’ve created Avatars to fuel our fancies in fairytales. We bury our heads and hearts and souls so deeply into chips and bytes and pixels and likes and shares and followers that we’re like robots unaware of the world around us. And that includes the people around us.
It feels like we’re losing touch. Losing the art of conversation. Losing the joy of getting lost in our own wonderful imaginations. Losing our ability to be social. It’s ironic really.
I’m not suggesting we smash our phones and go back in time. There’d be no point in that, because technology is a truly wonderful thing, but there is some truth in the concept of doing things in moderation.
We need to learn how to put the phones down every so often. We don’t need to check them every 8 seconds to validate our existence. We can and should take back our lives.
So what I’m saying is simple …
Make time every week to disconnect and put the phone away!
Relish experiences, savor places, enjoy people and feel alive.
You don’t need to share a picture of your food along with the other billion and half people who believe they’re being uniquely ‘them.’
Read a book. Read your kids a book.
Focus on what’s important to you … right now … at this moment.
Take a deep breath and enjoy being a wonderful, organic, living, evolving, breathing sentient being.
Enjoy being you!
You might just be surprised at how good you really feel.