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Put Down The Phone

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By Kevin Sheehan, Special Columnist

Regardless of weekly content, this column is designed to help others expand their way of thinking and promote creativity, empathy, and thought in general.

As with many things I have been addicted to in my life, technology seems to be among the hardest to break. I often will pull my phone out, and check for messages, and be slightly sad that there are none, even though I checked two minutes prior.
Technology gives us a false sense of being social. All these social networks connect us, put us in contact with each other, but we are never quite together in some sense. It is a great way to keep in touch with people who do not live around us, and there are many benefits. However, it seems to take over our lives.
Granted, I have met some of my very best friends via social media. However, after we met in person, we continued our friendships in person, not from behind the confines of a screen. Social media can also be difficult for some people, as they are not on it all the time and therefore can feel left out of things.
But if you ever want a solid test to see who is a good friend, or who cares about you, go ahead and delete social media. The people who still call, who still text, and still want to meet up to go out to eat with you are your friends.
One of my best friends, someone who I consider family, once told me that people are like parts of the tree. (Tyler Perry once made this analogy too.) People can be leaves: seasonal, and with a strong gust they can drift off into the unknown. People can be branches: fixed in your life for some time, often can help you keep strong and far reaching, yet a violent storm can knock them off, and the connection will never be the same. Finally, you have the roots: the very people who support you no matter what, and who will always love you and be there.
The point is, we are lucky if we have more than a couple roots. We may feel that we are connected to others, but how simulated is that connection? Sure, I may post this article to social media at its release, and you may read it, but how many times have you and I talked about our hopes and dreams? How many times have we talked about our worst regrets and our favorite songs? I don’t mean to call you or me out on not being super close, but there is only so much you can find online.
Go out and meet people. Randomly talk to people in line at the grocery store. If you see someone eating alone at a restaurant, and you’re eating alone, ask to join them. You may just make a friend. (Yes, I have done this. Most of the tables were full and so I asked an older gentleman if I could join him at his table. Smart guy, we talked a lot about construction.) The world is so much grander when it is not on a screen. People smile bigger than the cameras capture. You can feel a hug from a friend instead of getting a picture ‘liked’ by them.
A picture is worth a thousand words, or so they say. But pictures don’t quite capture happiness, only the smile. They may capture the sparkling in an eye, but not the passion or zeal. They may capture the look of the food, but not the smell and the taste.
We chronicle our lives, and there is nothing wrong with taking pictures for the memories, but instead of looking at something through a camera, look at it and enjoy it with your eyes. Relax, and take a moment to decompress. We all know the reason we take a million pictures is to enjoy them later. But instead of focusing on enjoying them later, enjoy it now.
Put down the phone. Go outside and go for a jog in the crisp fall air. Smell the change of seasons. Go talk to someone you have never met before (unless they tell you to leave them alone). Go see what life is like without your phone in your hand. Trust me, it’s a lot better than they tell us.
Kevin Sheehan is working on ‘Put Down The Phone Part 2’, an article about driving in Central Florida. Stay tuned!