Life Existed Before iPhones...And I Miss It
If you're in your early to mid-20's and reading this, it's possible you don't remember a world without the Internet, smartphones and social media. And that's pretty amazing. You grew up in a time where every question had an answer at your fingertips and you don't have any concept of standing in line with nothing to do but...stand in line. I've tried to remember the moment in my life that divided pre- and post-technology. Real technology - the kind that weaves into every moment of my day and night. It was when I got an iPhone. When I got my first iPhone, my eyes went down instead of up. I sat at the dinner table with my Dad and checked my phone instead of soaking in every precious, irreplaceable second with him. I often chose to take a photo of a sunset rather than simply enjoy it.
A few years ago, The TODAY Show did a series on the lives of modern teenagers. Drugs, parents, grades, etc. I distinctly remember one segment on dating. Savannah was talking to a room of teenage girls. "Show of hands, how many of you have had a boy ask you on a date in person?" Confused looks. Hands down. OMG.
Some of my best memories are of a boy, standing in the high school gym or parking lot, palms sweating, asking me on a date. In my 20's, no less than 3 men asked for my number at the grocery store and one of them ended up being an amazing boyfriend. I fell madly in love with a man I met at Starbucks and moved across the country with him 6 months later. It breaks my heart that so many young women today don't know that rush of adrenaline and happiness. It's sad that young men don't know the bold sense of courage it takes to look a girl in the eyes and take a chance. It's like we've lost the vulnerability muscle.
So what can we do? We're not slaves to technology. We're humans with a heart and a soul. I make a point to leave my house without my phone at least once every couple of weeks. I usually go to my neighborhood coffee shop with a book. It's crazy though - for the first few minutes it's like my brain is seeking distraction. I find myself looking at my neighbor's phone while she takes a photo of her avocado toast. It's like I've forgotten how to focus. Slowly my brain calms down. I read the book. I love it.
Letting go of the crutch of technology is a constant battle for me. Technology replaces courage, boredom, human connections, loneliness, confidence. A few baby steps:
- If you're single, ask someone on a date in person or over the phone
- Leave your house without your phone and run errands, meet a friend for drinks, browse a bookstore
- When you're standing in line, put your phone away and say good morning or hello to the person next to you. Too bold? Make eye contact and smile.
- Call a friend instead of commenting on his or her status
- Turn your phone off or on airplane mode at 8 pm and resist the urge to check it before bed
- Go to bed and leave your phone in another room
This list is as much for me as it is for you. I'm a big believer in embracing change and not fighting it, but there's a place of balance. A place where we can intentionally choose moments of presence. When I think back on the moments in my life when I've felt the most alive, none of them involve looking down at my phone.