Something interesting happened to me last week that allowed some insight into myself and how I’ve managed to jump on the proverbial societal bandwagon. Although I don’t necessarily fancy myself a rebel, I always tend to assume that I’m one off from society, considering I tend to walk my own path and don’t really follow trends or what’s considered cool. But one thing that didn’t take a lot of effort on my part was getting a smart phone. From the moment I purchased a Blackberry in 2007 and the ensuing argument with my ex-wife because of it, I’ve always owned and actively used a smart phone.
The advent of the smart device revolutionized how people live, communicate and surf the internet. In fact, the average person surf’s the web on their smart device far more than on their computers, which has become the common trend. Don’t ask me for a stats source on that one because I don’t have one. This has simply been my observation. But it’s true that it’s pretty rare to go out in public and see someone without a smart phone in their hands, in their pocket or somewhere nearby. Generational gaps have closed as well, with all ages of people taking part.
Last week, my day started pretty typically for a day off. I woke up, had some caffeine and started playing my daily challenges on my phone. By the time I had made it through my app routine, checked the couple of social media platforms I actually subscribe to and watched an episode or two of something since my toddler was binging his fuckin’ Paw Patrol, the battery on my phone was down to about a quarter capacity. Being the responsible phone owner that I am, I plugged it in to charge since I was just sitting at home. My wife and I had some breakfast and we discussed needing a few things from the grocery store and I offered to go get it.
After prepping a short list of items and discussing meals for the weekend, I left the house and made my way to the local grocery store. There was only one thing amiss; once I reached the grocery store, I tried to pull my phone up to start my mileage tracker and realized I didn’t have my phone WITH me. It only took a moment to remember that I had left my phone to charge next to my bed, which is where I keep the charger to use overnight as I sleep. I remembered the few items I needed so for the short period of time that I would be out of the house, I didn’t really feel I NEEDED to have my phone on me. I walked into the grocery store and began my shopping…
I’m part of one of the last generations who can say that they spent their childhoods without anyone being able to get a hold of them when they were out of the house. When I wanted to get a hold of someone, I had to call their landline and leave a message with the hope of a response once they returned home. And if I DID get someone on the line, I didn’t have to ask ‘where are you,’ since I already knew they had to be at home in order to answer. so what could possibly go wrong with being out of the house for an hour without my smart phone? Well, there are some issues with that line of thinking.
Having a smart phone on oneself at all times allows for the ability to contact your loved ones in the case of an emergency without issue; something that wasn’t possible about twenty years ago. But that safety net brings with it a sort of addiction that one never notices because they always have their phone on them. But as I shopped, I found myself feeling a mixed sensation of anxiety and relief. The anxiety came from not having that safety net on my person. The relief came from not having that safety net on my person. And no, that’s not a typo, I meant to write it that way.
There’s a certain sense of freedom that comes from being untethered from one’s smart phone. Most people remember to bring their phone over anything else of importance, like keys. But being disconnected can be comforting. By the same token, I recognize that I’ve become so used to always having the world’s information at my fingertips and always having an open line of communication to anyone trying to contact me. Suddenly being separated from that is what caused the anxiety. But it was an enlightening experience. technology has become a common and expected part of our reality. Don’t believe me? Turn off the wifi in someone’s household for an hour and see how everyone reacts. It ain’t pretty. For myself, I think it’s shown me enough to convince me that I should occasionally “treat” myself to some device-free time. ☯️