My soon to be eleven year old has been badgering me for a phone since she was eight. Yesterday she asked me if I was going to get her one for middle school–next year. My initial response was that would be a hell to the no. Of course I didn’t say that, instead I was more rational and said, “Convince me why you will need one. Then we’ll see.”
After she left for school, I reflected on our conversation and why I’m so against cell phones. I finally narrowed it down to one thing and I know I’m going to get a ton o’ grief for saying this, BUT:
I think phones are crutches that disengage us from living our lives and distances us from others.
That being said, I do understand the benefits. The other day I bought my husband a prepaid cell phone for a trip he was taking because he couldn’t take mine with him. He needed to be able to call the kids every morning and talk to them. In that way, phones help us stay connected, but most of the time phones are used to tune out small moments of living. Let me give you a couple of examples.
1. My sister was babysitting her niece, whom I’ll call Tonya. Tonya, 14, was staying at my sis’s house for a week and so on Friday night, my sis allowed Tonya to have a friend spend the night. At one point things were quiet and when my sis checked on them. They were texting…each other. Not because they didn’t want my sis to hear their conversation, but because it was what they were use to doing.
2. For my mom’s sixtieth birthday, my sis’s (there are 3 of them) and I took her to dinner and a movie. During dinner two of my sis’s kept checking their phones. I finally made a passive aggressive comment and the phones were still not put away. One was checking Facebook and the other one was reading her email. I was mad because I could feel them being more interested in their phones than the people at the table. Yet, both…BOTH of them had recently mentioned to me, how they wished we met more often. What’s the point? We really aren’t connecting if they are more concerned with their phones and I tend to shut down (and so do they)when they do that. So, the time spent together is a waste of my time.
3. This example applies to almost everyone out there because I’ve seen it happen more and more often. Two people are talking at___________ fill in the blank with your own noun. I’ll choose the park. So, two people are talking at the park, with their phones out on the table and one keeps glancing at the screen or touching it to keep it active. The other person’s eyes follow each movement and slowly the conversation comes to a long unnatural pause.
4. Today a woman was walking in the neighborhood, I think she was trying to get some exercise, and she was staring down at her phone. Do you know what she missed? Vibrant orange, red, and gold leaves against a blue sky. A beautiful sight that tends to put a smile on most peoples faces. Instead, she was reading about someone else living their life. Unfortunately, here in Denver we aren’t going to have too many more of those types of days and she will probably be wishing for them when she didn’t appreciate them in the first place.
People you are missing out on small moments of your life for the lives of strangers. You are distancing yourself from loved ones and telling them, “Sorry, but my phone is more important than you.” When you are on your death-bed, you are not going to be wishing you had checked out a few more twitter feeds or Facebook pages. I’m suggesting that once a day, you power your phone down and embrace your life.
Unfortunately, for my daughter she is going to need some very convincing arguments before she’ll get a phone for middle school.