By Karl J Staffhorst
How much money would it take for you to give up your phone for a week? Okay, some of you clever readers are already finding loopholes in my question, so let’s throw out any kind of tablets or laptops too. I’ll let you keep your brick and mortar desktop computers (because I’m not a monster). It’s getting tougher right? I bet that price in your head keeps going up. $100 maybe? Or could it even be more? I would point out how much you are going to miss calling your friends, but lets face it, the phone app is about the least used app on phones these days. I mean why would I want to call somebody when I can just shoot them a quick text or email?
Wow, look over there! “Why do I never have my camera when I need it” -said no one ever in 2017. Just bust out your phone. Photo, video, selfie? You got it. Add an obnoxious filter, and tag it “woke up like this.” Just another day in 2017, but please leave the selfie stick at home. There are even entire film festivals shot just on iPhones. (Viva la Android)
It’s no big secret that we are in an era where technology has put the world in the palm of our hands. I wish I could say we all use this power for the greater good, but I don’t think your Spotify playlist, going on a YouTube clip binge, funny Vines (RIP Vine), or playing that Mobile Strike game that Arnold Schwarzenegger keeps trying to get us to play, counts. In some ways we are both the most social generation ever, but also the most disconnected. We stare down at a little screen to find out about the world happening right in front of us. (LOOK UP!) With our heads buried into our devices we see what our friends are up to on Facebook, glamour shots of food on Instagram that we are all kind of jealous of, all that nonsense on Snapchat, and cats, really cats are just the internet’s bread & butter. This list could be endless. I mean is Farmville still a thing? Some people could still be playing that. They might still need water for their virtual crops or something. (I actually have no idea because as a sane person, I blocked all the stuff years ago) I won’t even mention the fact that you are still keeping tabs on your ex. Our phone can seem like a compass in our lives, telling us where to go and what to do. Sometimes we may even get lost, but we got Google Maps, so problem solved. The point being we all do a ton of stuff on our phones.
So we are just a super social generation right? We share our photos, our beliefs, articles, music, or just what we are doing on Facebook. We share our random thoughts on Twitter like, “When Cheerleaders go to a competition who are they cheering on? Themselves? #RandomThoughts #TweetingJustToTweet.” We see the world through the lens of our friend list, and all those Instagram filters that make that plate of tacos look way cooler than they actually are. (Trust me, they are just normal tacos) The young professionals are checking their LinkedIn, trying to build a brighter future for their career, while they pray that their old MySpace page never sees the light of day. (Because the only question they don’t have an answer for in their job interview is one for that haircut, and custom theme you were rockin’, to go with their brooding Emo band persona) You can bounce around on Reddit, “Pin” recipes, and other DIY projects you are never actually going to do yourself on Pinterest. We destroy our friends in Words with Friends, or Trivia Crack. We also “like” each other’s statuses, pictures, and if we are feeling motivated enough we might even comment. I mean look how social we are!
This little phone thing is like magic!
Oh, and look it also has Angry Birds too. Score! Here is a challenge, try to describe the logic behind Angry Birds to anyone without sounding like a crazy person. “You see the pigs stole the bird’s eggs, so they got a giant slingshot, and different types of birds, and….nevermind, it makes no sense.” At least Poke’mon Go got us up and out of the house for a bit. (For like a month)
Let’s get back to the point because this is where I start to sound old. Back in the days before we were loling in every text response, we actually used to talk to people. (Ughh that already sounds kind of terrible) I mean like literally right to their face and everything. (We even had to make eye contact) So, now we are connected to the world, but how much of it is through that 3rd party to our conversation THE PHONE?
Quick quiz! See if you can recite the cell phone number of any of your friends……yeah that is pretty much what I thought. (I can list a home and work number, but that is basically it)
Now let’s ask ourselves what is being added or lost when we speak through all these platforms? I think we can all relate to when the wrong tone comes across in a text message. As a heavy user of sarcasm, I often find myself in this situation. (Ask my ex-girlfriends for references on said examples) Although, I will give my phone keyboard credit for some hilarious auto-correct fails. (I seriously think my phone is funnier than I am most days). Still, so much is being lost in translation because there will always be an app for just about everything, but real human interaction can never be boiled down to a bunch of ones & zeros.
So I ask you, are we really more social than we have ever been before? Or are we actually losing some of our people skills? Our words probably reach more people than any generation before us, but are we wasting our words, wasting our given platforms? I think of some of the greatest political activists of earlier years, and cringe to think of how they would be using this platform compared to how we use it. (#Embarrassed) What are we really doing? I am writing this not really knowing the answer to that question. I see both the good and bad of it all.
It’s up to us to decide what role we want these little magic boxes we call smartphones to have in our lives. I can joke around about a ton of stuff, but I haven’t really mentioned the fact that we can do a lot of practical, and productive things on them too. I do some of my best “adulting” on my smartphone. I check my bank accounts, pay bills, check and send work emails, record notes, check my stocks and investments. I can read the news on the go, check the weather, traffic, or hit up Amazon & eBay to buy cool stuff. Not to mention the calculator app, because I often lack even the most basic of addition & subtraction skills.
After just admitting to you I don’t really have the answer to these questions, and constantly making a fool of myself throughout this entire post, I’ll tell you what I do. About once a year I go up to my family’s cabin for a week where there is no WiFi signal to be found (and barely even a phone signal). My emails go unchecked, my social media isn’t heard from, and I unplug from the grid. I sit, I read, and I write. (I also order way too much pizza from this amazing pizza place, but it isn’t really relevant to the message, but I said it anyway.)
Simply put, I let my phone die, and I recharge. It is one of my favorite times of the year. Just pizza, reading, writing, and recharging myself for my return to this thing we call life.
That is what I want to challenge the readers who stuck with me on this long post to do. Put the phone down and go see, and be a part of this world. I challenge you to put it down for a few days. Test your self-control and reliance on it to function. Go out and make the news stories your friends are only reading about in their newsfeed. Visit that friend you haven’t seen in person in forever. Be that pre-smartphone version of yourself that you once were. Sure you might come back to 500 emails, but trust me, it is worth it.
Have some thoughts on all that? Leave a comment below. Tell me how wrong I am, or tell me how you balance your phone’s role in your life. How long have you gone without your phone? Share your story. ( I am aware of the irony that you might have to use your smartphone to comment on this.)
Disclaimer: Blue Water Healthy Living is an online magazine located in Port Huron, Michigan. Our purpose is to promote healthy living by showcasing the Blue Water Area, its people, issues and surroundings. This online magazine is devoted to providing healthy living related stories, local happenings, and commentary. Often inspiring and uplifting, our stories come from our heart and soul to promote the enjoyment of a more fulfilling Blue Water Area lifestyle. The material on this web site is provided for informational and amusement purposes only and is not to be confused with any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the opinions and values of Blue Water Healthy Living.