Can you not look at your phone?

posted by Jeff | Monday, November 18, 2019, 10:16 PM | comments: 0

I managed to work in a really solid walk today after lunch around Lake Eola, the big lake with the fountain in the middle of downtown Orlando. The weather was perfect. There's this little bar and grill down there (where I've never had lunch, oddly enough), and as I walked by, I noticed that half the people there were staring at their phones, including people who were there with other people. On a perfectly lovely day.

What has happened to us? I've got a whole post I intend to write about being present, as it has come up for me and my family in a number of contexts recently, but it's nuts. I see it everywhere. When people are in line for food, walking around between meetings, standing at a urinal, and worst of all, driving... can't anyone just be alone with their thoughts for a few minutes?

Look, I think it's a miracle that we can carry super computers in our pockets connected to all the world's knowledge, but let's be real. People are checking how many likes they have or playing Candy Crush. I'm not saying a little time wasting isn't worth it from time to time, but shit, put the damn thing down and look around. What does it say about you that you're so incapable of not reaching into your pocket and pulling out that phone when there's just the slightest moment that the world isn't stimulating you?

I've had most notifications turned off for a long time on my phone, and what I do see is time restricted. I ignore those Slack messages at work when I'm sitting in a 1-on-1 meeting, and you better believe I'm a little offended if you can't do the same for me. If I get a text in the car, it can wait. If I'm waiting to get a burrito, I look around and observe the fascinating rhythm of people around me (half of which are staring at their phones). Heck, even waiting in line at theme parks, look around, because the people watching opportunities are amazing.

Just try it. Try to not follow through on that impulse to look at your phone. Be present.


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