The other day I was watching my children at Tae Kwon Do, and I as I was, I found myself spending some time reading a book I was carrying around. I confess that I carry around books everywhere I go. It’s easy to read a page or two whenever I have a chance, but it’s also something that is easy to put aside for when you’re spending time with other people.
That day, I was sitting on the front row of the studio’s parent seating, and since i didn’t have my other children with me, I never actually turned around to see where they were or anything. I just appreciated Tae Kwon Do, and I read a paragraph here and there from my book.
When Connor and Ellie’s class was over, I stood up and turned around and saw that every person in the parent seating that day had their nose in their phone and no one was talking to anyone else. It was quite a disturbing sight. I really wished I had gotten a picture of all the people occupying the same space but not interested in each other at all.
I immediately felt guilty that I hadn’t turned around to engage these acquaintances in conversation. However, even when I got up, no one looked up at their phone with a comment, a smile or any sort of greeting. So, I just awkwardly walked out the door as quickly as the kids got their shoes on.
It made me think of the book I’ve been reading, 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You. In the book, Reinke pinpoints some different ways the the technology we have in our life has changed us, and (for the most part) it’s not for the better. He also proposes some healthy boundaries for smartphone use without being a Luddite.
One of the things that Reinke pinpoints for us with the change in the nature of phone use is how lonely they often make us. We use them to keep us from having to interact socially with people when we’re in a crowd. We also use them from having to be alone with our thoughts when we’re truly alone. Or as Reinke so nicely puts it,
The smart phone is causing a social reversal: The desire to be alone in public and never alone in seclusion.
That was what I saw that day. It’s also what, many times, I find myself using my phone for.