We’re living in the zombie apocalypse. Everywhere you look, people are walking around mindlessly glued to their mobile Internet devices. For every Instagram photo, Facebook update, Tweet, Vine, like, fav, and comment you see online, there’s a slack-jawed, mouth-breathing zombie in the real world, staring at inanimate pieces of plastic (hint: you’re one of them).
I Am Legend…
Pets can do a lot of things. They can sense emotions, predict weather, and get to live their entire lives rent-free. One thing they can’t do is see the Internet. From your cat or dog’s perspective, you, staring at your phone all day, look more ludicrous than they do chasing their tails. Animals don’t need the Internet, so it’s not accessible to them.
Humans aren’t so lucky, unless they were born into an aristocracy. It’s no wonder so many people get lost in their imaginations and surf the Internet. All these interesting posts are just better than the mundane and painful world around us.
That’s not the way it has to be.
We can be the change we want in the world. We can stop broadcasting our every thought, vision, and sound to the entire world. Instead of judging those younger than us for being attached to their phones and unable to socialize, or blaming older generations for developing the phones in the first place, we can internalize the blame and realize that we are the problem.
Being in any sort of awkward social situation used to be the catalyst for making new friends. Facing that awkwardness is what separated mice from men. That awkwardness is the ice everyone always talks about breaking. Without it, people are learning to hide from their fears, rather than face them. People aren’t learning to tread the ice.
It doesn’t have to be that way, though. When you arrive early at a party, you can choose to keep your phone in your pocket and lend a hand. If you’re surrounded by people you don’t know, challenge yourself to spark a conversation with them. When you have delicious food, you can just eat it. Live in the moment.
You don’t need to fully disconnect from the grid. In case you haven’t noticed from the blog you’re reading online, I’m a blogger–I clearly believe in utilizing the Internet. We just need to be more mindful of our web usage instead of mindlessly connecting.
Break the habit…
We all have addictions, and you’re lying to yourself if you say you don’t. You may be in control of the cravings, but you can’t deny their existence. If you’re unsure whether or not using your smartphone is an addiction, here’s a litmus test:
Go hang out with a group of people–any people will do, but you can use friends if you’d like. When they pull their phone out and start playing with it, do you have the urge to pull yours out? If you don’t think that’s a sign of addiction, you’re suffering from the same denial as smokers and alcoholics.
Admitting you have a problem is the first step toward recovery. Now that you’ve taken the vital step of recognizing both your addiction (using your smartphone) and triggers (awkward situations), you can look for other ways to handle those situations without using your phone.
I know it’s scary–it’s scary for all of us–but it’s possible. You can face your nerves and take those awkward moments on. It doesn’t take some pompous speech or grand gesture. Simply say, “no phones allowed,” when you’re around people. Break the ice with a quick 10-20 second bit about how people are always so attached to their phones that conversation and connection have become a lost art.
…and go from there.
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