Like the majority of the world, I have a smartphone. It keeps me updated on the weather, notifies me of important emails, and even allows me to keep track of important meetings on the go. I use it as my alarm clock every morning, and it has become an extra accessory I could never leave home without.
For some people, the smartphone (and other small devices) is how news is relayed between regions. Even farmers check the price of a bushel of hay through smart devices. It is not only used for personal reasons, like tracking our kids’ whereabouts, but also for never missing an important phone call about a big work project.
Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, having this kind of technology at our fingertips has enabled us to be everywhere, practically do anything with the swipe of a screen, and learn anything by asking a mysterious woman called Siri. The satellite function of Google Maps both astounds and creeps me out with its accuracy. There is no such thing as “I couldn’t find you” anymore. No one would believe you.
Everything is tracked, and if it isn’t monitored in some way already with an app of some kind, chances are, one is in the works.
As much as the phone has enhanced our lives, it has also become a deterrent for living the way we once did. It has allowed the impersonal world of the web cater to our laziness and our love of convenience. As we rush out the door every morning, our first thought is never, “Did I feed the dog?” It’s, “Where’s my phone?”
Even the younger generations are becoming “vidiots” as we constantly push something electronic their way in the hopes of pacifying them while we wait at a restaurant or sit through church.
I am no different from the rest of you, but I have found great freedom in leaving my phone at home recently.
Going against convention and turning off my phone is also something I almost crave and am searching for a valid reason to do so.
Don’t get me wrong…I understand the need for a smart phone. The benefits of having one clearly outweigh the reasons for why we shouldn’thave one.
Nevertheless, here are 5 simple reasons for why leaving your smart phone at home is the smarter idea:
1. Less distractions.
Let’s face it, if your phone isn’t vibrating or ringing from constant notifications, you’ll be able to focus better on the task at hand. No matter how many friends you have on Facebook, you are bound to miss something in someone’s life no matter how up-to-date you try to be. If you have thousands of Twitter and Instagram Followers, catching up on what’s going on in their lives will keep you from being engaged in your own life. With work-life balance being a rarity these days, we may actually be able to leave a little bit of work at the office for even just a short while by staying away from our phones.
2. Peace and quiet.
It may sound silly, but not having to listen to someone talk into their Bluetooth headset or headphones can be refreshing. The quietness we encounter will allow us to hear the birds sing and to hear the wind whip lightly through the trees as the seasons begin to change. As we take time to return to the good old ways of reading (with a book instead of a Kindle), we can feel the pages slip through our fingers, and hear the lapping of the waves as they crash onto the shore. We can recharge without feeling like we’re being pulled in so many directions.
3. Connect with people.
It sounds far-fetched, but since the birth of texting and SnapChatting, our lack of in-person interaction has caused human conversation and interaction to become very impersonal. Before smartphones, it was important to know and remember the phone numbers of the people we needed to call most. My guess is that most of us can’t remember the phone numbers of the top 3 people in our contacts. Even sporting events, children’s concerts, and a night out with a loved one has turned into events that are experienced in silence as each person stays glued to their work email and/or texts. Remember, the memories you create with people will always beat any Vine video.
4. Heightened senses.
People take some remarkable pictures of the incredible food they encounter when eating out for others to see, but will accumulating a large online following help you in savoring the crispness of the garden salad, the texture of the spinach and hard boiled egg rolling around in your mouth, swirling with the dressing that has just the right amount of spice and tanginess? Will your followers help you take in the colorful layers of greens and reds of the Grand Canyon and its walls that are now visible because of the Colorado River flowing below? Hearing the laughter of babies, watching a vow of love, or even feeling the comfort shared through the touching of hands cannot be described or experienced the same way if you are not present in the moment.
5. Remain a mystery.
Here’s the thing…no one really wants to know why you needed to take your dog to the vet, and you don’t need to “check in” every time you go out to buy a bag of Cheetos or a liter of soda. Sometimes, it is fun to show others that you’ve been somewhere different and unexpected, but for the most part, we can’t know everything, about everyone, all the time. It’s okay to “tag” your family and friends every once in a while, but no one wants to see or hear about you every second of the day. We all have lives too, you know. Keep a few secrets hidden from the rest of the world. You may meet your best friend for coffee every week at the same time, at the same place, but the rest of the world doesn’t need to know that… This way, it’s more special. And it will stay special – even if it is just coffee.
Technology will only continue to improve, and our senses will continue to be overloaded with the never-ending stimulation found in our pocket and purse, or sitting on our desk. Because we never want to fall too far behind, this constant need to be “in the know” has created more stress in an already busy life. Our lack of sleep has turned a good night’s rest into a low-quality nap, as the ever-present abyss of Pinterest becomes an unwitting time-suck. Suddenly, it’s 3:33 am, and we’ve created 2 new boards and pinned 17 more recipes that we will never try before we finally black-out from exhaustion.
Next time when you’re outside enjoying the brisk coolness found in the soon-to-be-autumn air, cuddling with your loved one near the fire pit, listening to the crackle of the wood, feeling the warmth in each flicker of flame, and watching the orange glow slowly burn its way through the path of the least resistance, realize that you are hearing a long-forgotten, but familiar sound… It is life.