Today, we're living in a world that is dependent on its smartphones. Every day, we use these devices to communicate, to document, to research, to entertain, and to investigate. But what we fail to realize is that we also use them to distract, and this is harming us more than we know.
Think about the last time you went to a concert. You probably recall a sea of cell phone lights illuminating the entire arena in flashes. Perhaps you yourself are known to host a plethora of videos and photos from a concert or event on your phone. I know I've been guilty of doing this.
While doing this, we don’t seem to realize that we're viewing that concert through a screen, not in person, even though we're lucky enough to actually be there. In this situation, it makes more sense, in my mind, to just save the money next time and watch the concert on YouTube the next day. What's the point of even being there?
We've come to crave documenting every little moment of our lives to be shared on social media, or communicating with people other than the ones we're physically with. We'll take hundreds of photos in search of the perfect one for Instagram, and we film multiple, 10-second, play-by-play clips of every party we attend to add them to our Snapchat stories. Why? Because we want validation. We want others to know that we were here, at this time, on this day, and that we did x, y and z. By doing this, we’re not even living for ourselves anymore, we’re living for others.
I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I don't benefit from all of the advantages that smartphones can provide. Let’s be honest: Smartphones keep us connected, entertained, and they make our lives a lot more convenient.
But they're also incredible tools that hold the power to deter us from being in the present, and they make it so that we sometimes can’t distinguish the world inside our phones from the world going on around us.
Perhaps it’s possible for us to look up, be present, and not mind putting the phone down, so that for once, we can live in the instant in time. When did we become so obsessed with using our phones to capture a moment for, or communicate with, people who are elsewhere? Forget about them. They're not here, you are. Be here.
I understand that there is a fine line between using our phones for attention and using them to keep memories alive. We are lucky to have access to all of the many portals that we use to document memories today. Having a photo or video of a happy time in your life is an amazing keepsake, and I will not deny that.
However, there was a time when this technology wasn’t available, and people had to rely solely on their memories alone.
I think remembering a moment strictly as the way you saw, heard, and felt it that day is something that’s truly beautiful. Can that memory get altered with time? Yes. But without the distraction of a phone, that memory is still 100 percent authentic.
I've found that some of the best memories of my life haven't been frozen in time because of a photo. Rather, some of my best memories come from smelling a familiar scent, revisiting an old place, or hearing a song that takes me home. A photo living inside of my phone will never hold the capacity to keep alive the memories that arise from those moments.
In 2013, a YouTube video called “I Forgot My Phone,” went viral. The video perfectly captured how we're unable to singlehandedly disengage ourselves from the moment because we are too preoccupied capturing it on our phones.
“I Forgot My Phone” covers all of the bases: being at lunch with friends who are glued to their phones, lying in bed with significant others who can’t seem to stop texting, and even young children who are growing up in a world that only knows having a phone in the palm of your hand at all times. In my mind, the video is a must watch, and it can be viewed here:
My point is this: We're missing it. We’re missing funny stories, beautiful landscapes, and intimate moments. Look up and be here. You will never regret forgetting your phone, but you will regret forgetting to see the world.