Put the Phone Down

I hate cell phones.

In some ways what I just said is overstated, but at this moment it is exactly how I feel. I’m currently writing from my new favorite relaxation spot, Einstein’s Bagels on Poplar near Perkins. They have a wonderful little lobby with sliding glass doors that open to the outside world. It is at once peaceful and comfortable, full of fresh air and refreshing breezes. So it should be no surprise that I chose to come here to write, to rest, to contemplate the intricacies of life and dream of worlds other than this one.

What does this have to do with a hatred of cell phones?

It begins with my own cell phone, and a sudden and unexpected reaction to the second time it’s vibrated in my pocket in the past hour. I cursed, pulled it from my pocket and threw it into my bag. After my reaction, the logical part of my brain kicked in to try and figure out what just happened to provoke me to carelessly toss a $200 piece of hardware roughly into a bag. I think the best way to communicate it is to tell you that my phone, and yours, is a nag. It always wants my attention right now, and it always interrupts me thinking that anything and everything is important enough that it can’t wait. What scares me most is that there was a time I believed it.

With these thoughts in mind, I glanced up to notice the man who’s been here with me since I got here. A man who has not put down his phone for nearly two hours. Whatever that little device has to offer, he’s been fully sold on it. Still, what he chooses to do is his business, so I settled in to begin writing. Writing about change, and the pleasure of being outside. Writing about the challenges to live a more meaningful life, and the necessity of change to live. Mind you, that’s hard enough without the sudden eruption of a loud conversation just over your shoulder. Yes, you guessed it. A young man had just sat down for a late lunch and a phone call. I couldn’t help but think that this kind of thing never happened before cell phones. And as someone who lived before this wired revolution, I’m coming to think the cost isn’t worth the convenience.

As if to help me make my frustrated point further, one more person has walked into the story. A young woman behind me, eyes fixed on whatever television show or movie she’s watching on her phone. In truth, I know this tirade is a little unfair. What she is doing isn’t much different than someone reading a book, though a bit noisier. However, it’s a good representation of our growing ability to take our distractions with us everywhere. We don’t have to actually engage with life where we are anymore. We tote a digital escape with us everywhere we go. And while some may consider these things valuable, I find more and more that I’m seeing the games, the social media, the text messages and the videos as a leech on my time and energy. More often than not, they are the junk food feeding my mind when I need real food. They rob me of time and energy I need to create and produce, if, in fact, I ever want to finish writing a short story, a novel, a song.

There’s more to this story than my phone, but I recognize it is a significant part of the problem. Maybe it’s time to move the nag to the bag permanently and live completely in the moment and space I’m actually in. After all, isn’t life right here and right now?

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2 thoughts on “Put the Phone Down

  1. Ah you are so right! There are times I leave home without my phone on purpose. I get into a sort of argument with the kids etc. Because I want mealtimes to be without cell phones. I want that human contact.

    I watch so many people respond like Pavlova experiments to any sound their phones make, instead of interacting with their fellow humans or just the world. And what does it say now about our society, when there are actual questions about, and how to deal with cell phone etiquette at parties and the like?

  2. I understand that desire to have meal times, coffee, etc. without phones. I want more than someone’s divided attention, and I hope I always choose to give that same gift as well. I don’t think people realize what their actions are saying when they can’t put it down or leave it alone. Too many, if they are honest, care more about the phone than the person they’re face to face with. And love the Pavlov reference, it captures what I see on a daily basis perfectly.

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