Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Simple Suggestion #258... Walk away from the cell phone

It wasn't that long ago that there was no umbilical cord between us and our telephones. They sat solitary and stationary on a table or stand, available when we needed, but not running our lives. Of course, since then, the advent of relatively cheap and always available technology seems to have made us into cell phone addicts, and it doesn't look good when you really think about it. The picture to the left is from one of Edmonton's Eco Stations -- some of the many portable phones that are thrown out every year.

Planned obsolescence and our wasteful culture aside, what's even worse is that I can't tell you how many times I've seen a parent walking through our neighbourhood while holding a child by one hand and staring at their phone in the other -- as though the kid was just a bag of groceries instead of a living person. I worry that our kids are starting to believe that this is normal behaviour -- that phones are more important than people.

Too many times I've been engaged in conversation with someone whose phone suddenly pings or trills or whatever you want to call that disruption, and their side of the conversation devolves into mmms and hmms for several minutes, making me wonder if they actually hear me as they check their device, or if I'm just so much background noise.

Then there's the Pokemon Go phenomenon, though it seems to have died down from its initial insanity. People walking or running around, looking at their phones, chasing invisible, imaginary digital creatures. Dragging their little kids around as they attempt to capture Charmanders and Squirtles. Why? I still don't really know. Points? At least it gets them all outside, even if they're walking into trees.

The thing is, in the real world there's so much more to see and hear. The downy woodpecker on that tree over there. The sleepy smile on the face of the toddler in that young mom's stroller. The blue sky through the whispering golden leaves. The way laughter makes a friend's face light up. The things our kids want us to notice. The things our loved ones need to hear us say.

So my suggestion for today is this: Let's leave our cell phones behind on a regular basis, just leave them alone, solitary and stationary, for a while. And then -- go for a walk and see everything. Really listen to friends and family (especially little kids) and give them our undivided attention for a change. If boredom strikes, think of a few things that we've been meaning to do for a while, pick one of them, and do it. And remember that those texts and emails and voicemails and pokemons will still be there when we're done really living -- without our phones -- for a while.

P.S. Looking for more Simple Suggestions? Click here.

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