I just watched two of my fellow human beings walk across a busy Chicago street while lost in the world of their phones. Shortly after they sauntered into the crosswalk, cabs and other cars honked violently, startling these tech-obsessed pedestrians to a disturbing point. Clutching their chests and taking a few deep breaths, the walkers continued on, choosing to re-enter the digital sphere once safely across the street.
That has so been me. I’ve been that person so absorbed by the touch screen, so engrossed in a world of millions, that I’m neglecting the world I actually live in. Sure, I may be present and focused by definition, but at what cost? At the cost of my memory, my real awareness, even my relationships.
I do my best to put the phone away when spending quality time with others, but because we all live in the same world and we all use these devices, we all have the same strange addiction to them. We’re tolerant of each other as we communicate with everyone else but the ones we’re with.
Beyond the very basic tenants of memory we used to hold so dear (remembering phone numbers, addresses, birthdays and details of loved ones, etc.), lies a direct correlation between how much we use our brains and how much we substitute them with our phones.
There’s a heap of people to support and uplift in real life, relationships that involve much more than texts, memes and photos of adorable cats. There are strangers on the train, bus, at the coffee shop, and on the elevator who could benefit from our direct engagement. A smile, a soft rub on the back, a small compliment; these are all opportunities we miss when we’re lost in our devices and disengaged from real life.
In an effort to strike a healthier balance, I created a list of intentions. These are commitments I’m making to myself and to my human and animal friends: