Remember when there was no internet on an airplane?
You actually had to read a book (not a Kindle or iPad), take a nap, or even…(gasp)…speak to your neighbor!
How about when cell phones were like $8 dollars a minute? Do you recall when pagers were the most sophisticated form of communication? You still had to run to a pay phone once you got paged and drop in a dime (then a quarter) to return a call.
We are all so connected these days.
The phone is almost like another appendage for some people (I first typed ‘young people’ but then corrected myself because a lot of folks from all generations are addicted to their smartphones!)
I was working out at the gym last week and, afterward, decided to take a sauna. There were eight men in the sauna, and six of them brought their iPhones in! No joke. Reading from them. Texting and whatever else. IN THE SAUNA! Some with wearing Air pods, too!
(Am I a terrible person for secretly wondering if their devices would be ruined by the heat and humidity? Or at least a quick little electric shock to jolt them awake?!)
I don’t know about you, but I can only sit in the sauna for about 15-20 minutes max. I don’t need to bring my phone in for 15 minutes. I am most certainly NOT that important.
But why? What makes us all feel like we need to be connected all the time?
The world does not stop on a flight from LA to New York without Wi-Fi, and you probably won’t miss something life-altering if you put down the phone for more than ten minutes straight.
It’s starting to feel like this digital prison. Social media and app developers prey on the same behavioral psychology flaws that create a slot machine mentality.
‘Got to get that fix! Short bursts of dopamine, ever so fleeting, leaving us wanting more, just enough to tease the next one.
All the time.
I heard a great quote recently that sums it up: “We’re all drowning in information but starving for wisdom.”
Why do I bring this all up? As we close out this year and prepare for the next, I find myself reflecting on two thoughts: what is truly necessary in this life, and what is important.
Yes, we need to be connected to our devices for family and business, but we most certainly should not become slaves to them.
Taking a little time to shut off the brain and relax is so critical. Having a real conversation with actual words and not emojis or the “lol” is even more important.
Being present is the most important thing. The irony is not lost on me that if, for some reason, all of our smartphones, earbuds, computers, and technology stopped working tomorrow, within a week we’d see depression, anxiety, and suicide rates plummet around the globe.
So, I urge you to be conscious every time you pick up the phone, log in to Netflix, or start scrolling. Create positive habits as we enter the new year and have the discipline to stick with them. Do it for yourself, but also for those around you who depend on you.
Be present. Be mindful. Lift your head up and take notice of those family, friends, and loved ones around you. Because right now, that’s all we’ve got – and all we need.