Take a Break, Turn Your Phone Off & Enjoy Going Outside

I’m extremely embarrassed to say that last night, the final thing I did before closing my eyes to sleep was check my Facebook and text messages. This morning, when I was awoken by some kind of heavy machinery beeping as it backed up outside my front door, the first thing I did was check my Facebook. After that, I went right to my computer to check my two work email addresses and…..

Now, here I am posting this mini-rant. Technology runs my life and I have a love/hate relationship with it.

who born in 80's

I’ve seen this meme or ones similar to it floating around Facebook every once in a while for the last few years: “We are the last generation that learnt to play in the street, we are the first who’ve played video games, see cartoons in color and went to amusement parks. We were the last to record songs off the radio on cassettes and we are the pioneers of walkmans and chatrooms. We learned how to program the VCR before anyone else, play with the Atari, Super Nintendo, and believed the internet would be a free world all on a 56kbit modem. Traveled in cars without seat belts or air bags & lived without cell phones. Rode our bicycles down the road without brakes. We never had phones but still kept in touch. We did not have Play Stations, 99 television stations, flat screens, surround sound, mp3s, iPods, computers and broadband…but nevertheless we had a GREAT time.”

I came in right on the tail end of all of these things, Atari is only a very distant memory (my parents had one when I was maybe 4). I wasn’t allowed to have/play video games as a child or watch very much TV. You couldn’t keep me away from music, however. I did have a walkman, and a CD player later on, and I’m very guilty of recording songs off the radio onto tapes to make mix tapes, but for the most part, my entire childhood -until I was about 12 or 13 – was technology free.

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My childhood was mostly spent outdoors

When we first got CompuServe at my house, I remember getting into a chat room and thinking “oh this is weird. How do I tell if this person I’m talking to is actually who they say they are?” I didn’t know how to use it, or what exactly I was doing. I had no idea how dangerous it was to tell the person on the other end of the chat room my age, or where I lived. Our parents generation wasn’t really equipped to teach us to protect ourselves on the internet, because they never had to even think of things like this growing up.

By the time I turned 14 or 15, AOL consumed much of my free time. I had “Friends” in California, and all over the place. I grew up as the internet advanced, and now I’m lucky enough to make it part of one of my careers. It blows my mind that now that it became such a crucial part of life in only about 16 or 17 years.

Beepers. My Dad had one of those. I think some of my friends might have had them, too, and I might have even begged my parents to get me one. That never happened, and that passed. I wouldn’t even know how to use one now.

Cell phones. I remember that my Dad had a car phone installed sometime in the 90’s. It was huge and had big curly cable that I loved to pull on. It was cool to be able to call him and say hi to him in the middle of the day while he was at work, just like I do now, but it was mostly just a convenience if anything.

In high school (1999 – eek), I started dating this guy and he was really cool. We spent a lot of time together, and I truly enjoyed that time. In fact, it may have been one of the best times of my life. We talked about religion, and politics, and critiqued/listened to music. We rode bikes together and went hiking. We imagined our futures and what our lives might be like. That all changed when he got a cell phone. Car rides suddenly became band meetings and the music had to be turned down,¬† our dates consisted of the damn thing ringing constantly, and him answering it in the middle of our conversations. I felt like I didn’t exist anymore. I felt second to an electronic device. He went to college a year ahead of me, and eventually we broke up.

arguing

A photo of my high school boyfriend & I arguing.

In 2001, I moved to California to attend Chapman. Our school was one of the only schools in the US at the time that had a fully wireless campus. We had this great pilot program for Dell laptops, so I actually owned my first laptop before I owned my first cell phone. I hated them that much, that I didn’t even want to be part of the group of people that owned them. When I finally did give in – in around 2003, I only used my cell phone to keep in touch with my family back east. Most of the time, it stayed turned off in my purse.

At some point, I finally splurged and got a Motorola flip phone that could take photos, and I became part of the crowd addicted to their cell phones. Later on, Sidekicks became popular, then Google Phones and eventually last year, I gave in and got an iPhone.


Ask me how I have gotten to the point where I subconsciously feel I cannot survive without this stupid contraption right next tome, recording every little thing I do on it (including my runs, and photos of meals) and I wouldn’t be able to tell you. I keep it in check, turning my phone off on dates, at dinner, at work, and when I have friends over, but I still have a problem. I’m sure many of the rest of you have this problem.

This is a really great article about people using their phones in situations where it is flat out rude, like the theatre. This is one of my BIGGEST pet peeves. There is nothing worse than being at a recital, movie, or theatre performance and having a cell phone go off. Do you know how hard it already is to concentrate while you are up on stage and then at a crucial moment (and it always happens at a crucial moment), someone’s phone starts crowing like a rooster or playing Petzolt’s Minuet in G?

Have some respect for the work the performer has put into creating a theatre or musical experience for you and turn the damn thing on silent at the very least. Have some respect for the person you are hanging out with by not answering the phone while you are talking, or eating dinner. Seriously.

As for me, this Memorial Day weekend, I will be on a mini camping vacation, reminding myself that it is entirely possible to survive without my cell phone and the internet, and all of the niceties of modern society. All business calls will be sent to voicemail, Skype will be signed out,¬† Facebook¬† will be ignored as much as humanly possible. I don’t promise I’ll stay off of instagram, though.

Off to enjoy the REAL world. Ciao!

 

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