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Posted by on Dec 15, 2014 in Blog, Personal | 1 comment

Could You Last a Week Without a Smartphone?




Last week, I called a “time out.”¬† Fed up with¬†a growing¬†dependency on¬†communication devices —¬†and shackled pretty much to iEverything (which means my iPhone, iPad, iPod, and the Internet) — I finally said, “enough!”¬†¬†I surrendered my smartphone.


Consumed by the shallowness of what masquerades as dialogue in the high-tech age, I made an audacious decision to jump off of life’s spinning hamster wheel.¬† I needed a break.¬† Not a vacation.¬† I didn’t go anywhere — unless bolting “offline” qualifies as the heavenly seclusion of a deserted island.¬† What I actually mean is splintering away from an unproductive, time-wasting daily compulsion that’s become an incarcerating bundle of puppet strings, albeit with the power of steel cables.

That meant doing¬†what for¬†many people would be¬†utterly unthinkable.¬† That meant ditching my smartphone.¬† That meant essentially avoiding¬†just about anything and everything¬†associated with¬†what’s called “social media,” which in reality is about the most unsocial¬†means of¬†expression ever devised by humankind.

Sure, social media seems like a blessing, and it surely can be — when it’s used and practiced in moderation.¬† But when every waking hour of every day, including our weekends, become consumed with texting nonsense and checking and re-checking our Twitter and Facebook accounts for favorites and likes which is akin to puppy dogs panting for milk bones, when we can’t eat a meal or drive a car or walk in the park without the security blanket of a smartphone resting in our palms, we can’t possibly be the beneficiaries of such a constant bombardment of uninvited headaches and mostly useless (not to mention frivolous) information.

In short, we’re not using high-tech.¬† High-tech is using us.¬† We’ve become slaves.¬† Addicts.¬† Junkies.

Do any of us really care to know who bubbled a $300 buy-in poker tournament in Prague?¬† Do you really want to know what LeBron James thinks about Ferguson?¬† Does anyone want to read yet another right-wing wacko manifesto on how President Obama is the secret lovechild of Karl Marx and Madeline Murray O’Hare?¬†¬†My recent discord isn’t just another “get off my lawn” tirade against social media’s weak signal-to-noise ratio.¬† It’s a higher calling for a complete lifestyle adjustment and total reevaluation of one’s priorities.

Last Monday morning at about this same time, I told myself that I wouldn’t get caught up in the revolving rat race of constantly spray painting the social media graffiti wall with my very own personal tribal colors.¬† Smartphones aren’t communication devices, they’re cans of Rustoleum.¬† Call me biased, but writing out thoughts and creating something from scratch is one thing.¬† After all, contemplating an issue and expressing a point-of-view takes work.¬† Popping off with a sarcastic Twitter post or¬†adding to¬†a Facebook thread usually requires about as much effort as a bowel movement,¬†all with comparable by-products.

My week of separation from social media wasn’t just a temporary recess into otherworld tranquility.¬† It was, in fact — liberating.¬† Sure, I still checked my e-mails once a day and glanced at the news occasionally.¬† But I refused to allow the devices which are supposed to make my life so much easier and more enjoyable to take hold of the essence of my existence.

Now, when my phone rings — I will occasionally do the unthinkable.¬† I don’t answer it.¬† Imagine that.

If I’m busy, or even if I’m enjoying the moment, an incoming phone call or a text can wait.¬† And it will wait.¬† That text message you receive will be there 15 minutes from now.¬† It isn’t going anywhere.¬†¬†A smartphone isn’t a Jeopardy answer.¬† You¬†don’t have to come up with another question within¬†five seconds.

This constant stream of rubbish does occasionally yield gold dust.¬† We¬†learn¬†about¬†breaking news stories much¬†quicker now than in the¬†old days when we relied on television or radio to learn about the events of the day.¬† But we also know far less about¬†the real history and actual substance of some very serious contemporary issues.¬† Once upon a time, we used to read, then digest, then contemplate.¬†¬†Now,¬†our thoughts must be encased within just¬†140 characters.¬† That’s not a dialogue.¬† It’s a food fight in the national cafeteria¬†which might as well be called¬†“Animal House.”

Deteriorating dialogue produces dangerously unintended consequences.¬† The explosion of social media has led to the compartmentalization of reality.¬† We’ve begun to isolate ourselves into parallel universes of legitimacy which provides a convenient platform for alternative versions of the truth.¬†¬†This now means that the drunk crackpot posting his views on Twitter and Facebook enjoys identical channels and occupies the same stage as Noam Chomsky and George Will.¬†¬†Social media’s egalitarianism has become so omnipresent in our lives, we can’t even agree on what science means anymore.¬† We invent our own facts.¬† It’s turned democracy into mob rule.

Now, if you will excuse me — I have to go.¬† My smartphone is blowing up.¬† Time to return to the plantation.

1 Comment

  1. I’m still holding off on buying a smart phone. I check my 1990’s style cell phone once a week. I don’t own a television. I use internet to read Nolan Dalla, sports lines and conspiracy theories on Reddit, and google maps when I need to find the nearest library.

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