I spent a few days on the beach in Miami with my wife, and I couldn’t help but be shocked by people’s behavior with their smartphones.
My day started early at the gym with a small handful of exercisers. Even at 7am many of the exercisers were glued to their smartphones for the entire duration of their exercise. People were walking on the treadmill and cycling on the bike while being completely immersed in their smartphone for 90 minutes, without lifting their eyes from it.
At breakfast I saw a few couples and families sitting around the table, everyone with eyes glued to their smartphone as they were eating, with an occasional brief exchange of looks and words.
And, then at the beach, so many people sitting in their beach chairs glued to their smartphones for hours at a time. I even saw a few people walking on the beach holding their smartphones in front of their eyes literally walking and typing. I’m not sure how they managed to watch where they were going.
And then again at the restaurant over dinner, same behaviors.
I don’t know what the official statistics are of daily smartphone usage, but assume it is very high. In fact, I would bet some people spend 60-70 percent of their day glued to their smartphones. And, to be clear, the people I saw were not all teenagers or young adults. Some were clearly in their 40s, 50s, and 60s.
This is our modern, enlightened society.
If modern, enlightened means not being able to put your smartphone down and control your usage, not being able to make eye contact and/or converse with your loved ones, and/or not being able to simply be present in the moment in order to ‘stop and smell the roses’ – then, count me out!
Please don’t get me wrong, I love technology; I depend on it; I can’t imagine being without my computer or my phone for even one day. My entire life is entangled in technology – my personal and business calendars, my food and exercise apps, my immediate and extended family WhatsApp groups, my personal and business contacts, my emails, texts and more…
However, I don’t want to be so consumed by my technology that I am unable to function without constantly glancing at my smartphone. I don’t want to be impatient and anxious to receive the next message; I don’t want to worry that if I go off the grid for an hour or two, I may miss something. I want my technology to be my tool, resource and support mechanism, not my addiction. I want to control my impulses, I don’t want my impulses to control me.
Call me old fashion, but when my kids come over and we spend time together I want us to just be with each other and catch up, without smartphones. The same with my friends. I want to have quality time with my wife without either of us thinking about or looking at our smartphone. I want to exercise and do yoga without being concerned about missing out on something at work while I am nurturing my body and soul.
My wife often challenges me to eat my salad without dressing and to try other foods without sauce or gravy, in order to remember the taste of vegetables, grains, and meats in their natural and pure form. To be honest, I don’t love doing that because I have become used to the taste of meat with honey mustard or fish with Hollandaise.
However, when it comes to my connection and quality time with my wife, kids and loved ones I will do my best to keep our relationships as natural and pure as possible.