Prepare yourself for a bit of a rant.
I spent much of January, 2011 in Costa Rica on a study abroad trip. I returned with many vivid memories, such as staring into a volcano, hiking down hundreds of stone steps to a stunning waterfall, zip lining through misty clouds above a breathtaking rain forest, and eating dinner at a cliff-side restaurant overlooking a starlit valley.
But perhaps my favorite memory, the one I miss the most, is the moment I locked my cell phone in the hotel safe—where it lurked for the rest of the trip.
Don’t get me wrong. Phones are useful. But somewhere along the way, people seem to have stopped viewing phones as a means to an end and started treating them like little rechargeable deities. I say “little”—these last few years phones have hit a growth spurt. Society needs to make up its mind. How can you expect me to wear skinny jeans when I’m trying to transport a phone that’s as big as my face? But I digress.
Anyway, assuming you’re like me, and you can spend an hour sans cell phone (without hyperventilating), let’s indulge in a playful little tribute to ourselves. Here is why the few of us who can survive an awkward pause without a cellphone conversation are wonderful.
1. We know how to have an actual conversation.
Don’t you love it when you’re telling a story and the listener pulls out their phone? Some would argue I’m just a bad story teller, but I choose to blame phone addicts. If you were talking to me and I turned to talk to someone else, you would be annoyed right? So how is it any different when you start reading a text? Why are the text thoughts more important than mine? I’m the one who cared enough to actually spend time with you. And don’t give me the classic line “Keep going, I’m still listening.” I’ll bet you are.
2. We can go on an actual vacation.
I love cruises. So much. And one of the many reasons is everybody leaves their phones in their rooms and tries to remember how to be a human being—at least while they’re on the ship.
Earlier this year, my wife and I went on a cruise that debarked in Cozumel. We hitched a ride to the nearest beach; and while I swam in the crystal clear water, bounced sky high on floating trampolines, and tried to conquer my crippling fear of marine life, my beautiful wife took advantage of the beach’s free wifi. Because apparently that’s a thing now. Free wifi. At the beach.
3. We can tell you who won the game.
I will never understand this. How can you spend big money on concert or sports tickets and waste the whole show looking at your phone? Explain that to me. I took a college class from the GM of a minor league baseball team. He explained a growing struggle in live sports is keeping people’s attention on the action instead of their phones. Hence all the wacky dance contests and t-shirt bombardments during timeouts.
4. We’re less stressed (according to research).
In a study conducted at the University of Missouri, Time Magazine reports students’ “blood pressure and heart rate increased” when their cell phones “started ringing across the room but they were unable to answer them.”
In a different study, “high mobile phone use was associated with sleep disturbances and symptoms of depression for the men and symptoms of depression for the women.”
And since many of us use our phones to browse through social media sites, I’ll give you one more. Elite Daily reports, “New research suggests people who don’t use Facebook are happier than the average person who uses the social networking site regularly.”
5. We don’t ruin movies for everyone around us.
Remember when the first “turn off your phones” reminder showed up in movie theaters? At the time, it didn’t seem that necessary. Now, the movie warm up routine is basically preview, “turn off your phone,” preview, “turn off your phone,” opening credits, “turn off your phone.” And it still doesn’t work! I was at one theater that encouraged people to install an app that puts your phone on “movie mode.” Are you kidding me? Your phone already has a built-in movie mode. It’s called “silent,” and it’s not hard to activate.
I may have come on strong in this post, so let me land this plane with a little humility and a dose of encouragement.
I’m a recovering cell phone addict. My particular app of choice was Clash of Clans. I would rearrange my entire schedule and mistreat the people around me in service to that game. But thanks to a five day cruise (I told you cruises were wonderful), I broke the habit. Then I went a step further. I’ve recently changed the settings on my phone’s work email account so it won’t sync unless I tell it to manually. This gives me access to my work emails when I want, instead of letting them constantly interrupt my evenings and weekends.
If you find yourself feeling shackled to your cell phone, consider the research and know that, at least in my case, life has been more fun ever since I took control (minus a few days of withdrawal).
Featured photo credit: View Apart via shutterstock.com