The other day I was doing work at a hip, super minimalist cafe located in an old warehouse that only provides agave syrup to sweeten your artisanal coffee, and I watched while the girl sitting next to me spent (no exaggeration) 10 minutes arranging her glass of coffee (coffee here is served in glasses, water in mason jars) and the 2 succulent plants on the table, and took about 45 pictures from about 20 different angles.
It took a very long time. She looked ridiculous. And her coffee must have been cold by the time she actually sat down to drink it.
Not that I am one to throw stones. As a reader of this blog you know I do shit like this all the time.
i took the picture because the tree had a loop
But watching this girl I thought, this has surpassed fun and morphed into something weird.
Last night, after MONTHS of talking about it, we finally decided to switch to a new carrier and get new phones (my phone has been in it’s death throes for almost a year).
Our new carrier does not subsidize the cost of the hardware of the phone. So we walked into the store and I started looking at the retail prices of new smartphones.
$600, $700, $800…
Hold up. Do I really need a $700 phone?
I found myself thinking about life before my smartphone. When I had to look up a recipe before I went into the store. When I couldn’t check my email unless I was at my computer, at my desk. When I had to wait more than 30 seconds to actually listen to a song that was stuck in my head.
But along with this convenience I’ve undoubtedly experienced a loss of basic skills, including (but not limited to) the ability to:
- Read a map/have any sense at all of where I am when I’m driving (a couple of months ago as I was driving to an office in Hawthorne for the 5th time in 14 days, Waze bailed on me…and I FREAKED, convinced I was about to accidentally turn down South Vermont because I had no idea that it was 5 miles away. Because I had no idea where I was. Because I hadn’t paid attention before. Because I hadn’t needed to.)
- Take longer than 3 seconds to try to figure something out.
- Remain calm when a public facility has horrible or no wireless or cell service.
- Wait in line.
- Relax and enjoy anything without fighting the urge to pull my phone out to take a picture.
I do really love that I can hail a car, find a recipe, or see what my friend in Shanghai ate for breakfast whenever the mood strikes. But it’s a tradeoff. Because I am pretty sure that net-net, my smartphone has made me dumber.
A flip phone is smaller and cheaper. And if HH accidentally dials my old boss again, I know for a fact that I can hang up (because even if the touch screen goes blank, I can always just close the phone) and not force both of us into an awkward conversation. I could stop feeling the compulsion to constantly check my emails, texts, Instagram, FB feed…it would allow me to break free from these Pavlovian reflexes and reconnect with the real world!
my dad in the real world
…as seen through my phone
I got the Samsung Galaxy 5. Because podcasts.
Maybe I can hold off installing Instagram…
…at least for a week.