Over the past few months I’ve noticed a disturbing addiction in my life: My cell phone.
Cooking dinner? Now’s a chance to see what’s happening on Instagram. Going to the bathroom? Time to check email. Waiting in line at the grocery store? I’ll just read the headlines. The phone beeped?!! Stop what I’m doing and fish it out of my pocket (Yes, just like Pavlov’s dogs).
What the??? How did I let this happen? Anyone who knows me knows how much I enjoy a good cappuccino, but in the morning, before I even ground my beans, I was checking my email. That’s how I was starting my day!! Glued to a screen and expecting all the answers (and happiness) to come from Steve Jobs creation.
I know that most people will view this post on a phone; I’m not trying to preach from my soapbox. I am a fan of technology, and social media has allowed me to share my work with the world in a way that wasn't possible pre-Internet. I am amazed that I can make a photo with my digital camera, transmit the file to my phone, and share it with whoever I want. That is simply incredible!
But at what point is this all becoming too much? When are we missing the forest for the digital trees? How fast do we need to move? I can’t even count the number of photographs I didn’t make because I was stuck in the past and looking at the display on the back of my camera. Conversations are interrupted when a cell phone comes out of someone’s pocket. Cell phones are placed on the dinner table as if they are as much a part of dining as a napkin. Why bother talking something through or asking for help when you can look it up on your phone? Cell phones and social media are supposed to bring us closer, but it often feels like we are becoming more isolated from each other.
If I’m judging anyone with these photographs, it is myself. I’m this person, walking through life buried in my phone and oblivious to the people around me. I smile at strangers less often than I used to, a missed opportunity to exchange positive energy and make a connection in what lately feels like an increasingly divisive world. I’ve spent countless hours looking at a tiny screen while this amazing experience of life is happening all around me. I’m ignoring the present moment; the only moment that is actually happening.
Days and years pass by so quickly, and I don’t want to live a virtual life. My phone is a tool, and a pretty versatile one, but it is not the only tool in my bag. The challenge in front of me is to find my own peace and happiness within myself. The answers I’m looking for won’t be found in an email or a Google search, and as helpful as GPS is, there was a time before cell phones when I still got from point A to point B. And if I got lost, I stopped and asked for help.