If you ever want to feel a sense of despair about the future of our society, go to a popular mall around dinnertime and start people watching.
It takes about 30 seconds to witness two people nearly crash into each other, 10 minutes before they actually do and another 5 before we see the beautiful moment when someone looks up from their phone and is not entirely sure where they are.
I am sure they are all doing something important (they are not) but the sheer dominance of our phones can be disheartening. Frankly, it makes one wonder if we are progressively getting more stupid thanks to a device we think makes us smarter.
Every now and then, this phone culture creates a sense of teenage angst and we tell ourselves it is time to break our reliance on smart devices. Some strategies include leaving the device at home when running errands, turning on airplane mode or sleeping with the phone in another room.
Anyone who has tried this lifestyle shift has either heard, or said, the following phrase, “I feel naked without my phone”.
It is used as a pejorative, as if spending a day without our phone leaves us exposed and vulnerable. This is a fair enough sentiment, but an unfortunate statement about how we view both nudity and our phones.
There is no more empowering — and free — feeling as casually hanging out in the birthday suit. The only reason we feel uncomfortable in the nude is because of the Shame Wizard, who is just a creation of our own self-consciousness.
As the author Marty Rubin put it, “The woods don’t mind if I strip naked”.
The woods also don’t mind if you chill out on that Instagram update (my personal problem I am trying to fix), respond to your colleague later or avoid playing candy crush in the cinema. Actually, the “woods” would probably be grateful.
Obviously if you are trying to pick up your kid at school or are in the middle of a work emergency, then by all means embrace smombie status. A complete rejection of the rules and responsibilities placed upon us by society is both silly and selfish.
But if you are going to a yoga class or commuting to meet a friend, bury the phone the the bag and try to find an alternative avenue to pass the time.
Everyone has their little projects (finally reading that book, learning how to knit, or picking up a foreign language). Focus on accomplishing those goals for an hour or two, then reach into the bag and check your device. The sad truth is you probably didn’t miss anything.
Call me jaded but these little devices are not tools of empowerment, but rather blocks on creativity, impediments to progress and bottlenecks to breakthroughs. They should be something we tolerate, not depend upon.
Next time you leave the phone at home on a Saturday, don’t anguish that “you feel naked without it”, but rather celebrate that, “you feel naked without it!!”.
Then, while everyone is still hiding their private parts, be the first to jump into the water.