Smart Phones and the Rise of the Big Head.

by Amber on January 17, 2011

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?

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

jodifur January 17, 2011 at 9:03 pm

Oh my goodness, I wrote almost the very same post today. In the water?

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Amber January 17, 2011 at 9:21 pm

Maybe the airwaves.

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Rebecca January 17, 2011 at 9:23 pm

I normally turn my phone off on Sunday. I’m still connected (addicted) to the home computer/internet on Sunday, but the phone is not used. I also keep the phone off anytime I volunteer in the kids classes and when I am with others. But my phone is no longer connected to the internet…just a normal make telephone calls….and texting…..phone.

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Amber January 19, 2011 at 10:50 am

For a whole day? I couldn’t do it. A normal phone is a good thing to have. Much less addicting.

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Lady Jennie January 18, 2011 at 9:28 am

I always check my phone, but rarely answer when with others. That’s a step up, isn’t it?

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Amber January 19, 2011 at 10:50 am

Absolutely. I think that’s a good compromise.

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Amanda C January 18, 2011 at 10:42 am

I was at the writing group with you, and I can honestly say I don’t remember you checking your phone that often. However, maybe it was because I had my own distractions (read: children), as well as my cell and house phones interrupting us while I took calls from family members. I apologize for that! Unfortunately, both calls were kind of important to take at that moment. I’m hoping we don’t have the same things happen at the next meeting.
And, as far as my smart phone is concerned–I do keep it close at hand during the day when I’m home or out and about. When I first got it (and it’s the first smart phone I’ve ever owned), I learned that it would continuously update me on the newest FB and Twitter status updates and newest e-mails. After a couple of days of nonstop chirping, I realized I could reset it to stop alerting me. If I need to use it when I’m out, I will, especially if I’m waiting for an important e-mail or checking on my Meetup RSVP list for an event. Otherwise, I usually wait until I have some time at home to check everything on my laptop. It was actually freeing to me when I made that discovery! I LOVE my smart phone, but I can see how it could have totally been my addiction way too quickly. Thanks for the great post!

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Amber January 19, 2011 at 10:49 am

I’m glad it didn’t annoy anyone else. But don’t apologize, it all worked out fine! I just need to learn to set limits for myself. And then abide by those limits. But it’s hard to do!

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SaucyB January 18, 2011 at 6:54 pm

Oh I totally agree. That’s one of the key things that drove me batty about my last job. My boss wanted me answering email 24 /7 and 99% of the time it just wasn’t urgent at all. We weren’t saving lives and it was never anything that couldn’t wait until the next morning.
There is definitely something to be said for truly being “present” in every way.

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Amber January 19, 2011 at 10:48 am

I’m not particularly good at being present…I just love the social media world so much. But I’m trying to be better.

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Erin January 20, 2011 at 8:02 pm

Good stuff Amber…Good stuff.

I have recently been scolded REPEATEDLY b/c I am not “available” via cell phone to all those who need so desperately to speak to me…namely my mother – to tell me how she saved over $423 at Kohls or my hubs to ask if I want Pizza and then get annoyed when I say no.

So…I digress…I’m with you on the break from “connectivity” – except for my Blog of course…b/c if I didn’t check it 73839303 times an hour, how else would I know that NOBODY is reading:)

PS – I want to be in your writers group!
Erin recently posted..Non-Breaking Spaces

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Amber January 21, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Oh yes. Calls like that are uber important, aren’t they? Good for you on setting limits. I read your blog. So at least one person does. ;-)

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