My boyfriend Matt recently told me a story of how he went to Publix to buy a pub-sub before work. He was checking Red Sox scores on his phone (per usual), waiting for his sub to be made. He then left the store and got in his car and looked over at the passenger seat at his sub, wondering why his items hadn't been bagged when he checked out. And then *light bulb* he realized he had walked out of Publix without paying because he was so distracted by his phone! He ran back inside and apologized profusely explaining what had happened. In the end, he got a free bag of chips for being so honest. Moral of the story? Publix is awesome. AND, like many others, he became so distracted by his phone, he completely stopped paying attention to the world around him.
We have become so attached and consumed by our phones; turning into mindless zombies that aren't looking up anymore, we're looking down at our screens. We are a society that constantly needs to be entertained and stimulated every single second. Bored at a red light? Look at your phone. Waiting at the doctor's office? Look at your phone. Feeling awkward standing alone waiting for someone? Look at your phone. For every problem, the solution is our phone.
Most of us wouldn't be able to function properly spending a day without our phones without feeling bored or anxious. Who would entertain us? How would we be able to tell time or wake up in the morning without our alarm? We've become so dependent on our phones, we rely on them for everything. We have to have them next to us at all times and feel naked without it. Usually, we don't even realize we've picked up our phones and started to mindlessly scroll, it's become an instant reflex.
When our phones take priority, suddenly everything else takes a back seat. How many times has someone been telling you a story and you get on your phone in the middle of them speaking? You instantly just told them, whether you meant to or not, my attention is not 100 percent on you. How many times have you been out to dinner with a friend and you're both on your phone, texting and checking Instagram for the hundredth time that day instead of actually talking to one another? How many times have you texted while driving, constantly staring back and forth between the road and your screen? As hard as it is to admit, we're all guilty of it.
We are constantly trying to capture everything in front of us and make the moment last longer instead of actually BEING in the moment. You pay money for great seats at a concert, but you're experiencing it through your tiny screen so you can see it later. You go out for happy hour with friends, but everyone's too busy Snapchatting how much fun they're having instead of actually being present. It makes you wonder, can we truly enjoy a moment without our phones being present? Does privacy even exist anymore if we constantly want to share everything with the world? I catch myself doing it every single day. I'll be watching the sunset and my first instinct is to pull out my phone and take a picture instead of enjoying the moment to myself.
Of course, there are positives to having our phones handy and sharing moments with the ones we love. My brother Ben lives in Chicago and thanks to FaceTime, we can to stay connected and maintain our bond even thousands of miles away. Thanks to Snapchat, I can stay updated on his everyday life and most importantly, with his doggies. Unfortunately, it seems that phones help us stay connected to the people far away from us, yet separate us from the people sitting right in front of us.
We need to take daily steps to break the addiction to our phones and putting them before everyone and everything. Here are some simple steps we can implement every day to put life first, and our phone second.
1. Don't hit the ground running
When we wake up two things usually happen: we hit the snooze button 10 times proceeded by going straight to browsing our emails, social media, etc. Change your routine and don't use your phone for the first hour that you're awake. Instead use that time to pray, meditate, exercise or enjoy your coffee without staring at your phone first thing in the morning.
2. Heads up, phones down
Have a "no phone" rule at dinner. This helps to eliminate distractions and eliminate the temptation to want to pick up your phone. First one to break the rule has to buy dinner.
3. Limit sharing
Of course, we all want to take cute pictures with our friends and share our yummy drinks when we're having fun or snap the amazing concert we're at but limit yourself. Take a couple Snapchats and then put your phone away for the rest of the time and actually ENJOY. Be truly present in the moment, without your phone.
4. Think outside the screen
We've become so lazy with our phones; we think sending a text saying "I love you" with a heart emoji is a job well done. Think to yourself, how would you show someone you love them without your phone? Think "old school" and put your thoughts into action. Write someone a letter, drop off flowers at their front door just because, surprise them with a romantic picnic on the beach. Show people you love and appreciate them, don't just tell them with a few texts.
5. Wind down
The more we stare at those tiny screens before bed, the more active our mind is, making it that much harder to go to sleep. Before bed, turn your brightness down and keep your phone out of reach. Out of sight, out of mind.
Moral of the story: Our phones can wait, it's life that can't and won't. Stop interrupting every thought, every person and every moment to look down at your phone. Look up. Look up at the people in front of you who deserve your attention and respect. Despite contrary belief, the world will keep on turning whether we're on our phones or not. Do more things that make you forget to check your phone. And most of all, next time you're in Publix, don't be distracted by your phone as to avoid potential theft charges and miss out on enjoying your delicious pub-sub.