They’re everywhere. They’re standing in the middle of walkways, at the grocery stores, at shopping malls, walking down city sidewalks, they are your own friends that you haven’t seen in months sitting across from you at the restaurant booth. They are all doing that familiar thing, that incredibly common sight this day in age. Come on…you know what I am talking about by now, right? I am talking about that human with their head faced down and that far away glaze in their eyes as they look down at a tiny screen on a gadget that fits ever so perfectly between their hands.
I’m guilty of it. You’re guilty of it. Anyone that owns a cell phone, whether or not it’s a “smart” phone is guilty of it. I guarantee that in your time of owning a cell phone you have either tripped over uneven sidewalk, ignored your friend, or blocked someone’s way in a store aisle because of cell phone distraction. I absolutely guarantee it, we are glued to them. They hold the whole world inside of them. We feel naked leaving the house without them. With the push of a button we can find newer and better of anything: cars, houses, lovers.
A few weekends ago, I decided to have a cell phone fast for one day. The battery on my phone had died the Friday evening before and I decided that I would just not plug it into a charger until Sunday afternoon. To my surprise, as soon as I set the cell phone fast as an intention, I felt incredibly at peace and had a sense of relief when I realized I wouldn’t have to respond to anyone or anything on a tiny screen until Sunday. I became excited at thought of not having to feel guilty in not responding to someone.
I caught up on so many things that I had been putting off for so long. I finished chores around the house, including the two loads of laundry and washing the pile of dishes stacked like a Jenga tower on my bedroom desk. I finished a library book that had been racking up an over due fine for well over a month. I went on a two-hour nature walk/jog and locked eyes or smiled with a few other passersby. I caught up with two of my roommates who I have had more interaction with on Facebook messenger than in real life.
I have realized that my addiction to my cell phone has become just as bad as any other addiction that I have ever had. It is just another distraction keeping me from what I really want or should be doing. It has become a way to numb my brain out from thinking about thoughts that I don’t want to face. It is another way to avoid facing up to things that are hurting me or things that I need to heal. There are so many options and possibilities of things to do on my cell phone, it’s like being at a virtual amusement park for adults.
I understand that there is the other side of the coin. I know that cell phones are devices of convenience and helpful in many aspects. I know that it is part of what is able to connect us to everyone and everything. Someone in another country might be reading these very words I am typing out right now and that is absolutely amazing. But what gets me, what really gets me is this: what if it were all to crash tomorrow? I mean truly, everything changes and nothing stays the same.
I just want to be more alert and aware of when I reach down for my phone, what is it that is drawing me there? What is it within me that is feeling so uncomfortable with my own thoughts that I need to distract my mind with external validation from technology? I want to change my ways. I think I want to dedicate a time to look at it, maybe instead of first thing in the morning, I can look at it briefly at my lunch hour and for a set time after work: thirty minutes or less and that’s it. I just want more moment-to-moment awareness and connection, how about you?