Embrace the beauty in living life unfiltered.

Thank you for reading my stories, laughing along, and being brave enough to share yours! 

the drug

2016 started off strong. I mean like really, really, really, really strong. I knocked some of my 2016 intentions out of the park. And then I hit a wall. Then suddenly, it was the end of June. With one half behind and one half to go, I hip checked myself back in the game. While reviewing my 2016 list one intention stood out, glaring in front of me, almost blinding me in the eye – the cell phone goal.

“To be more phone-less. Experience my surroundings. Spend more time being social than on social.”

Errrrr. Failing hard. What a gargantuan effort it has been to detach from a small rectangular box! It doesn’t whisper me sweet nothings or spoon me on Sunday mornings and yet, its hold over me is strong. Adding challenge to the goal was the world around me struggled the same. Our phones are drugs and we are all junkies.

O smart phones, how I hate thee, let me count the ways.

Walk outside and take a mental screenshot of your surroundings. How many people are face down in their phones? Physicians are beginning to see actual wear and tear on our spines from the posturing used when looking down at our phones all day. “Tech neck” can be remedied by simple physical therapy but how lame does that make us sound?

“I can’t make lunch today. I’ve got a physical therapy appointment.”

“Aw man, what happened? You ok?”

“I should be ok. I’ve been getting headaches from muscles spasms in my neck. They say it’s from tweeting.”

Totally lame. Face down, shoulders hunched, that’s the way we like to crunch…our spines. Our spines, people!

Injury to ourselves is one thing but we’re hurting our connections with others, too. Earlier in the year, attempting to prove a point (or my presence), I would wait to continue speaking until a friend put their phone away. This was occasionally met with an annoyance that implied, “Keep going…I can “listen” to you and check this quickly, too. Ugh.” Keep in mind, in proving a point, it’s best to have never been guilty of the same crime, otherwise it holds no weight. Guilty.

Phones have taken spots on dinner tables. They come between exchanges with cashiers at grocery stores. They keep us from seeing other beautiful and friendly people walking down the street. Even maybe once or twice, they caused us to cross on red, only to be luckily stopped by a beeping horn. Thank goodness the driver wasn’t scrolling at that same moment, too.

I’d argue our “smart” phones are making us dumb. Imagine this. You’re walking to the grocery store to grab milk. On the way, old friends and new friends (even some sorta friends) are throwing piles of photos in your face. As you pass them, there’s a group waiving concert flyers up in the air. A few steps ahead, a group blocks the course with a pressing headline. Right beyond them is an energetic bunch claiming 5 proven ways to live the happiest life. And on and on and on. The doors to the grocery store slide open. “What did I need to buy?”

Raise a hand if mere seconds after a phone has been pulled out for reference you think, “What was I going to check?” Admittedly, too often. The moment the phone is turned on we’ve got an alert for this, an appointment reminder for that, a “like” on a photo, and a text that needs responding. It is no wonder we’ve forgotten so quickly what we first set out to do. The onslaught of distraction – both important and utterly unimportant is shrinking our attention spans.

Another downside to the rabbit hole of information we can fall into is our inability to sit with boredom. Boredom strikes, phone is reached, and minutes begin to vanish. Sitting with boredom forces us to seek out ways to get unbored.* Bored is good! If an app existed that had a running tally on minutes spent (wastefully) on the phone, what would be revealed? How much LIFETIME would have been wasted? Suddenly, we’ve all been gifted free time.

Truthfully, I was in a deep rabbit hole recently that allowed me to discover some of the best ice cream I’ve ever had. I am not sorry about that. Realizing that, let’s say 20 minutes of my life was spent drooling over pictures of ice cream instead of reading a book, or maybe even exercising to negate future ice cream consumption is embarrassing though.

What would we do if we just got off our damn phones?! Go on a bike ride. Procrastinate less on blog posts. Get clear on planning the next week, month, and year of our lives. Dust off that keyboard and finally learn how to play. Plan an adventure. Learn a new language. The opportunities are endless.

Now, let me ask. How many have sent a text they later regretted? How about while leaning over the kitchen counter shoveling pizza in your mouth at 1am? My Momma did always say, “Nothing good happens after midnight.”

Late night or otherwise, the immediacy texting allows has made us less thoughtful with our word. There was a twitter exchange between the camps of the lovely Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton juvenile enough to make our founding fathers throw strong side eye from their graves. Users delete regretted tweets and texts often as if they can be suddenly willed into non-existence. Sorry, people, but that asinine message written -it still happened

I know this seems archaic, but imagine if texts, tweets, and posts had to go through the effort of snail mail? How many messages would be thwarted by a lack of stamps? How many of our previously chosen words would make the cut after sitting with the thought for a day or two, had to be handwritten, and brought to a mailbox? Instead, today I’m queen of sending one last text. Sooner than ink can dry the receiver and myself suspect bullshit.

The worst is what few will talk about or admit. While privately reading this, raise another hand if, as an adult, you’ve taken notice to how many or how few “likes” a post receives. It’s something that’s noticed. Luckily, I don’t believe my generation places much weight past noticing. Consider children who know no world without social media. Not entirely implausible that impressionable youth start attaching worth to “likes.” If that isn’t enough reason to digitally detox I don’t know what is.

In a similar arena is social media stalking. Alright, let’s call it scanning. Stalking is an aggressive word. We’ve all felt some Sherlock Holmes in our blood before trying to uncover some stuff. People have odd and sometimes intentional social media behavior and it’s out there to see.

Maybe a case has been cracked. One cracked case does not mean it’s a solid idea to quit your day job to join the force. As Holmes suggests, ‘It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.’ Or rather, just because there was a happy looking photo found doesn’t mean they weren’t fighting ten minutes earlier about how quick he is in bed. Know what I’m saying? All does not always meet the eye.

Having just ripped apart modern technology, I’ll be honest that feelings remain torn. While not face to face, there’s a lot of opportunity for powerful connection to happen online. To be checked out in a world that’s checked in comes with challenges, too. Interesting articles are missed, ideas unshared, and local events never known. Try navigating a booming blog business while offline. Think these lulu’s pay for themselves?**

So what’s a gal to do? I am tired of being distracted. I’m not interested in my smart phone making me dumb. I want to prove connecting without reaching for my phone is possible, better. Shortly after this post, I’m taking a holiday. I won’t be off the radar entirely (Spotify, hello) but I’ll be checking out. If any of this rings true for you, I invite you to holiday in your own way, with me. In the meantime, subscribe to my blog (or “socially scan” it…whatever) to see if my theory of free time holds up.

Adios, cuties.

*We’ve reached a point where actual made up words are being intentionally kept in text because “it just sounds better.” You had been warned early.

**Far from booming. Barely a business. And someone pay for my lulu? This gig is unpaid.

be kind. always.

the middle