“If it keeps up, man will atrophy all his limbs but the push-button finger.” – Frank Lloyd Wright
Often people don’t believe that I spend deliberate time shutting off, they think it’s pointless or that it’s too hard. Many people mistakenly believe that they don’t have a problem with their technology and constant connectedness. It’s just the time we live in, people say, and it’s amazing; we can keep up with everything all the time. Well sure that’s true and in many ways it is amazing, heck I’m listening to the radio while typing this on a computer, my phone is in my pocket (I might even have left the TV on in the other room.) We can do so much today that was unthinkable just a few years ago…but we’ve come so far so fast that I often wonder what we’ve lost or forgotten about. I see families out to dinner and they are ALL on their smartphone. Dad is checking fantasy football, daughter and son are texting friends and mom is on twitter. I just shake my head, look across the table at my wife or daughter and remember that we went out to dinner to spend time together not apart.
So what you might ask? I’m sure they talk to each other at some time during the day? Right? Wrong! If people are using their phones while driving, on a date, in an movie theater, during lunch or dinner with friends, at job interviews, while playing with their kids then where is there any time left to NOT be on your phone? There isn’t any time left and before you know it the day or week is over and your neck hurts from looking down at your screen.
Why do I make the decision to shut off and why do I hope you will too? Because I want to be a participant in my life and others lives, I want to experience boredom and even loneliness at times, I want to strike up a conversation with a stranger, or just smile at an old lady in the grocery store, I want to sit quietly and just think. I want to hear the pounding of my feet on the ground when I go for a run. I want to make eye contact with my daughter when she’s trying to crawl and learn to climb, I’ve already caught myself looking at my phone while she’s looking up at me…and it’s not a good feeling. I want to be present when my wife and I go on a date so that we can connect with each other and talk about our hopes and ideas for our future. I don’t want to fill the silence with YouTube videos. I shut off because I want to go on adventures with my friends and family, I want to see and experience new places; places that don’t show up on Yelp or Google Maps.
It’s not easy but I make the effort because I know that it’s important. My goal is to help others understand not just the importance of shutting off but the benefits that come from doing it. I want shutting off to be the avenue for great things in my life and hopefully yours too. Check back in a few days for some suggestions on how to shut off; and don’t worry, you don’t have to smash your phone and move to a cave. (But you can if you want.)