Thursday, February 9, 2012

The importance of untethering

Where do you take your smartphone with you?  Do you take it with you on a run?  To the gym?  To the park with your kids?  How about into the bathroom?  The bedroom?  Do you keep it within earshot at a restaurant?  On the golf course?  At the pool?  I'm just curious, because recently two things happened that made me realize I need to untether.  I am WAY too attached to my phone, and my Kindle Fire, and my desktop computer, for that matter.  The one I'm typing on right now.  Actually, if I had a camera within arm's reach I'd take a picture of my desktop (the physical one, from Ikea) so you could see that as I'm typing on the keyboard, my Kindle and my Droid are both about a foot away from me.  S-A-D.  But also a reality of many people today.  I'm pretty sure I'm not alone I right?

I knew I had become too attached to my phone, but a few days ago, my son made it painfully clear for me.  We were watching TV on the couch and my phone was on the coffee table.  We got up to go play trains at his train table, about 4 feet away, and when I sat down he brought my phone to me and said "Here you go, Mama."  I looked at him quizzically and said "Thank you, but I don't need my phone."  He just stared at me and again said, "Here you go," as if to say "I wouldn't want you to be too far away from your phone, Mama, because you have it with you 24/7 and you'd be lost without it."  Thanks, kid, for the reality check.  At that point, I actually took the darn phone, carried it into the kitchen and left it there.  Out of arm's or ear's reach.  I couldn't even see if the little green light was blinking to tell me I had an email or text, and that ignorance was bliss.  My son and I played trains for a good, solid hour that day, completely uninterrupted and completely happy.

I know I'm not the only one who is entirely too attached to her phone, because tonight in Zumba class I witnessed something rather appalling.  A girl in the class brought her phone with her and left it at the front of the room.  In between every song - and I'm not exaggerating - she ran up to the front to grab her phone, check it, and text somebody.  I kid you not.  Not only was this entirely distracting, it was frustrating to me because she was blocking my view of the instructor, who often previews the sequence for the upcoming song and I couldn't see a thing.  I'm really pretty easygoing when it comes to the whole phone thing because I know I'm guilty of obnoxious overuse as well, but this made me furious.  It was disrespectful to everyone in the class, especially the instructor!  And c'mon, what can be THAT important that you have to check it every 3 minutes?

This week I have made a conscious effort to spend less time interacting with my phone and more time engaging with real human beings.  Like my son.  It's amazing how when you just don't bring it with you, you can tune into your surroundings and the people you're with, and be PRESENT for them.  I urge you to do the same thing, because I'm willing to bet you may have a little attachment issue to your phone, too.  Put it down.  Leave it in the car.  Turn it off if you have to, and instead of looking (hoping, wishing, praying) for that little green light to blink, try looking into the eyes of the person you're with and really LISTEN to them.  It's amazing what you might hear. 

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