On Friday, I sat in a meeting with ten other people. Not ten CEOs, or ten stockbrokers. Just ten of my coworkers. Very important people to be sure, but not Very Important People. And yet almost every single one of them had not only a laptop in front of them, but also a phone.
A smart phone.
And every time one of those phones blipped, the blippee would stop whatever he or she was doing to check and see Who Needed Them. Because, of course, having a smart phone means that you are Needed at all times.
I’m equally guilty. While at my writer’s group the other night, my phone blipped not once, but four times. After the first time, I should have put it on silent. But I didn’t. Instead, I kept it at my side, peeking every time it chirped at me. I told myself it was because Brian could be trying to get in touch with me. Could have a baby-related emergency. But I’m sure I don’t need to tell you the real reason.
When here at home, I keep that phone of mine handy, checking my email, twitter feed and messages on average of about twenty times a day. I tell myself it’s better and less time consuming than pulling out my computer, but let’s face it folks. There’s nothing in my inbox deserving of that level of engagement.
I am not that important. Few of us are. But something about our society encourages us to pretend differently. Something drives us to stay connected at all times, neglecting the people and world around us to plug into that other world. The one where we are Important.
I don’t want to do that anymore. I don’t want to wake up ten years from now and realize that I’ve completely lost touch with reality.
Am I being overly dramatic? Maybe. But just the same, I’m going to be turning my phone off at night. I’m going to leave it on silent while out with friends – or in meetings with people I need to talk to. I’m going to keep not just my feet, but my eyes, ears and attention here in the real world a little more often.
There’s more to life than a smart phone. And the few people to whom I am in fact a Very Important Person? Are, for the most part, right here in front of me.
And that’s just how it should be.
Who’s with me?