Smartphones are Running our Lives and Five Ways to Detox from Technology


Have you ever thought about what life was like pre-cell phone?

I grew up right on the cusp of the cell phone boom.  My senior year of high school I shared a motorola flip phone with my mom.  I kept it on me for emergencies and generally used the landline for making calls. ( I had a Garfield phone in my bedroom which is a totally irrelevant point, I just want everyone to know I had a Garfield phone.)  Before that, I had one of those phones that came in a huge bag that had to be plugged into the car.  I’m pretty sure it charged 8$ for a 30 second phone call.    In college I had a cell phone but reception was so bad in Kalamazoo that I didn’t really receive calls, I only received voicemails.

Then, within a span of a couple years, Verizon decided to take over the cellphone game and put up towers everywhere.  Smartphones were starting to become  mainstream and texting was becoming ‘a thing’.  By my mid-twenties I was using my phone for pictures, texting and GPS.  Nowadays, I am typing this on the computer while my phone sits in front of me because I am texting all day.  I am checking facebook periodically.  I am scrolling through Pinterest.  I am taking pictures and Instagramming.  I am addicted to my phone.  In fact, everyone is addicted to their phone to some degree.  But, the attachment I have is nothing compared to the all consuming addiction I see in people that are younger than me.

For a lot of adults and the majority of teenagers, life does not happen unless it is documented on your phone through facebook, snapchat, instagram, the list goes on.  This terrible habit is never more glaringly obvious than when I attend a concert.

Every time I go to a concert, it gets worse.  last week, I had the privilege of seeing Lana Del Rey at the Masonic Temple in Detroit.  The second that she walked onto stage 85% of the people in attendance had their phones up to document the whole thing.  I’m not trying to say that cell phones shouldn’t be used to take any pictures or videos at all.  I would have taken a picture or two if my phone hadn’t died earlier in the night.  In fact, it was a blessing in disguise because it wasn’t an option to use it at all.  Thus, the distraction was completely gone for me.  It also allowed me to completely focus on the concert.  I actually had a great sense of freedom.  I felt sorry for all the people that were slaves to their cell phones.

Instead of making a memory, they were trying to capture the physical memory with their phone.  They were seeing the concert through a screen.  Does anyone even go back and watch the video that they took?  Do they print out pictures from the concert and look at it with a nostalgic feeling, or do they look at it and just remember that they were so focused on capturing something that told everyone where they were or what they were doing?  The couple next to me were taking selfies during the concert.  When the girl walked away, her boyfriend sat down and started scrolling through facebook.  My guess is that he was there because his girlfriend wanted him there, but I still can’t imagine needing to see what people are saying on facebook over watching live music.

The pictures that I’ve taken at concerts have never actually left my phone.  I ended up deleting them to make space for more important pictures.    Why would anyone re-watch a video of a concert that they were actually at?  Especially when it’s the bootleg quality that comes off of a cellphone?

Sometimes, I wish that smartphones didn’t exist.  I am guilty of using my cellphone to fill the space during commercials or really any space where I have nothing to hold my attention.  It is a sad state to be in.  I am owned by this technology and I am missing the real world around me.  Have you ever thought about how exhausting it is to have to update your social life?  Or how long it takes to set up plans through texting?  It’s really fucking difficult.

When I see someone on the street, walking and staring at their cellphone, I want to shake them and scream “you are missing EVERYTHING!”  The cat video can wait.  Actually, it doesn’t even need to be seen at all unless it is literally a cat that sprouted wings and is flying around.  Because we’ve all seen it.  We’ve seen everything.  And it’s at our fingertips.  It’s making us rude.  Impatient.  Selfish.

Which is why I have come up with 5 exercises to help us detox from our cellphone addiction.

1.  Go for a walk sans cellphone.  

You don’t have to go for a five mile hike without it, I’m just suggesting a walk around the block.  But you MUST leave it at home.  Don’t even give yourself the temptation.  If something happens, like a rabid squirrel attack, there will be someone around who will call 911 for you.

2. Turn it off during concerts.

Take one picture.  I mean it-ONLY ONE.  Don’t take a picture of the performer singing your favorite song.  It won’t translate through the picture.  It will actually look like shit.  Just stop.  Seriously, I will knock it out of your hands.  After you take ONE PICTURE, turn it off and don’t look at it until the concert is over.  There’s no need to text, tweet, facebook or take phone calls during a concert.  You bought these tickets to be present with the music.

3.  No cell phones on the table during any meals.

Leave them in your purse.  If someone doesn’t have a purse to put their phone in than take it and put it in your purse.   You are in real life, with real people, sharing a real meal.  Don’t ignore the people in front of you.  Don’t take a picture of what you are eating because no one cares what you are eating.  Seriously, it’s food.

4.  Go a day without looking at or posting on social media.

I know, this one is difficult.  Maybe start with just one social media site.  So, let’s say that on a daily basis you check or post of facebook, twitter, instagram and snapchat.  Decide that on one day you will not open twitter.  Then, maybe when you build up the strength you can eliminate two for a day.  The trick is to slowly ween ourselves off of having to incessantly check.  Let’s get our lives back, people!

5.  Make a phone call instead of texting.

If you are trying to set up plans with someone, I promise it will go much smoother if you just call that person.  You will have to text back and forth 800 times to figure out exactly where you want to go.  Plus, it won’t kill you to have a little bit more human interaction.

So go forth into the world and use your own set of eyes.  Experience things as they happen and don’t feel like you have to document everything.  Keep things for you and only you.  Make memories that don’t include everyone on facebook or twitter.