I still remember holding my first smartphone in my hands. Years before that, my parents had made me get a flip phone, and now I realized something: I had no idea what I had been missing. Pure power! The internet at my fingertips, GPS so I never got lost again, social media into the night — I was hooked and actually pretty star-struck. I could ask Siri anything.
It wasn't more than a year before my smartphone started to run my life. The calendar beeped all day alerting me of everything I needed to get done and everywhere I needed to be. I had alarms on my phone to remind me to feed the dog and alerts every time someone breathed on Instagram or sent me an email. There seemed to be an app for everything and soon I was answering texts in the middle of conversations with live people. I texted at stoplights and even checked various social media accounts when the light went a little too long.
It wasn't until my sweet little 5-year-old niece said to me one day, "Put down your phone and listen to me," that I realized I had been staring at a screen and missing my life. It was like something snapped in my head. Suddenly, I started noticing how everyone else was glued to their screens too. In the elevators, in line at the grocery store, even couples out to dinner together in restaurants were staring at their phones while at the table, not even talking to each other.
The zombie apocalypse happened while we were all on our smartphones.
So alarmed, so dissatisfied with this device in my hands, I now have a dilemma: do I trade in my smartphone for a flip phone? Do I give up the digital photos and the instant posting on Instagram? What if someone needs to reach me? Do I lose my calendar that keeps me on time, and the ability to find anywhere I want by GPS? How will I ever take a Lyft again?
The justifications started flying through my head. At least I'm not putting more e-waste into the environment — I have traded in every smartphone I've ever had. I can control this! I'll put it in my purse when I'm home from work. I'll uninstall Facebook and Twitter and only look at those when I'm on a computer. I have to be able to see my schedule and know where I'm supposed to be, right? What if I forget to feed the dog? A little bit of panic had set in when I imagine being without my device. And let's face it, we all know that feeling when we lose our phone for even a moment—losing it forever seems unimaginable.
But, back to reality. Who knows if I really need a smartphone. I definitely lived and functioned in the world before one. I think I'd have better relationships and be more present without one. Tech addiction is a real thing and here's the main problem: we're all so addicted that no one really wants to talk about a solution because if we admitted it was a problem, we'd have to do something about it.
Well, I'm on the verge.
I'm not sure what it will look like but I'm going to do my research and get back to you. I don't even know if they sell "dumb" phones anymore. I'm hoping this generation wakes up to what they're missing when they're staring at their screens. I hope they realize that by being bored in a grocery line, they might have a chance to strike up a conversation with a future friend. Or just make someone else's day a little brighter.
All I know is that I want more than a screen.