It's finally that time of the year, summer has arrived! Graduation season is in full stride, ice cream cones are being consumed everywhere and the sun is beaming its rays down hard. People are flocking to waterparks, dog parks, and ballparks for fun and when you don’t have a fire pit you make one for those cicada-filled nights under the stars. The kites, sprinklers, and bro tanks are coming out but unfortunately so are our phones.
The other day on my walk back from work I realized just how beautiful the day was. Birds were singing, kids were outside playing and the windows were rolled down in the cars that drove past. I closed my eyes and inhaled a deep, clean breath of fresh air, but before I could let it out the device that I depended on most in my life let out a beep and a vibration. I quickly reached for the device and smiled when I saw that someone from California had liked the photo I had posted on Instagram of my friend’s dog. I pressed my phone’s home button and returned it back to my pocket only to find a couple steps later that I couldn’t believe what I had just done.
A person I didn’t even know just made me happy by liking a picture of a dog that I had posted only hours before, and the dog wasn't even mine! Was it really possible that this heart shaped notification took my attention and emotion away from what was happening in my life before? The weather was thrown out the window, the sweet smell of flowers had disappeared and the simple fact that I was alive and well was forgotten as soon as my phone had gone off. I tried to shrug it off and tell myself things like Well it’s just part of the culture we live in or At least I’m off of my phone now, but the thought of not being able to go 15 minutes without checking in on social media bothered me (I had had Facebook pulled up all day long on my computer and had scrolled through my feed before I even left the house that morning).
Once I arrived home I sat down and tried not to think about what was happening on the internet that I didn’t know about. I took my phone (again) and almost throw it across the room, but before I could evoke enough energy and anger to follow through with that action, another idea entered my head. I raced into my contacts and started typing out one last group message. This piece of digital connection would be the last one I would make for the day.
An hour later five of my closest friends were gathered in my backyard. The grill was fired up with brats and burgers cooking. Music was playing and frisbees were flying. Even the dog that had been my model for Instagram was there and having a good time. I looked around and smiled. I was so happy that I was surrounded by people that wanted to be outside in the presence of other humans instead of other machines. No one had their phones out because they were too busy talking or cooking or just experiencing life. Nowadays Snapchat, Twitter, and Vine can eat up so much of our time, it was refreshing to see my friends enjoying being outside and off of their phones. I returned to the patio to grab a plate for my hot dog with a smile on my face, knowing that my phone was inside the house, on silent and not being able to interrupt my life.