I was sitting at my family’s usual table at our favorite restaurant when I took a second to check my phone to see if my friends were liking my latest Instagram post.
OK, don’t judge me. I know you do it too.
I then glanced around the room and immediately saw lit up screens from 9 out of the ten tables around me. At least one person from every table in the restaurant was on his or her phone. Although, there was one woman holding her device who stuck out to me the most. I noticed a white-haired lady in about her 70’s squinting at her tiny screen, poking it as if it was stinging her shriveled fingers. I thought to myself, holy sh*t. Is this is going to be me when I’m older?
Admittedly, I’m always on my phone. But why is that? Why aren’t the things, the people, the experiences right in front of me enough? I’ve come to the realization that we are always checking our phones for instant gratification. I was checking up on my Instagram post to receive validation that I’m cute and funny. Turns out people do think I’m cute and funny, but that’s not the point. We’re constantly checking our phones for updates, which will inevitably alter our moods. We enjoy the feeling of receiving new things, refreshing our Facebook feeds, receiving positive feedback on a post, or even receiving some good news via e-mail.
But constantly checking our phones for texts, e-mails, likes on our latest Instagram post might actually be driving us insane. We check our phones way too often and are blatantly ignoring the people right in front of us.
Through personal experience, mindlessly relying on my phone and computer have been a useful, subtle way of avoiding uncomfortable feelings. After all, there aren’t many of us who regularly embrace those awkward moments when we’re walking down the street by ourselves, or simply bored and lonely just laying in bed. I usually text a friend, refresh my Twitter feed, check my e-mail, etc. Don’t get me wrong, there are times I love being alone, but most often I enjoy the company of other people, even virtually.
In addition to enjoying their presence around me, I enjoy the validation from them. Sometimes I even think I need it. When I’m having horrible anxiety, my first reaction isn’t to practice mindfulness and comb through the feelings racing through my head, but instead I pick up my phone and literally just check everything. When I’m trying to fight back tears, I’ll compulsively check my e-mail just to try to take my mind off it. My phone has become my go-to coping mechanism while simultaneously causing me the most stress.
I’m always going to have a love-hate relationship with technology, but I do know it’s one of the most astounding developments today, and it’s only going to continue to evolve. And we, too, are only going to further evolve. And maybe part of that is realizing that sometimes we just need to put down our phones and live in the moment.
It’s okay to feel. It’s okay to be alone. It’s okay to put down our phones.