The Art of Disconnecting

I can guarantee that at least half of you reading this are in very close proximity to your cell phone. Perhaps you’ll even take a glance at it once or twice – or, perhaps you’re checking out this article from your portable screen while waiting for a friend to get ready, or an appointment. Obviously, as it’s 2011, you are not alone.

According to an article by technobolt.com, two hundred trillion text messages are received in America every day, and 5 billion mobile apps were downloaded in 2010. Forty two percent of teens say they can text message accurately while blindfolded.  I’m impressed, as I can barely text message with full vision. (Why does “out” always turn into “MTV”? I hate you, auto correct!)

Despite two hundred trillion seeming like a excessive number, should we really be surprised? When was the last time you went to the movies without someone’s LCD screen lighting up midway through? Or actually had a sit-down conversation with a friend that didn’t include the beeping and buzzing of e-mail and facebook notifications? Should we be ashamed by these findings?

As per usual, Saved By the Bell happened to address these issues before cell phones could even fit in your pocket. In spite of the fact that my love for this show knows no bounds (besides The New Class, but that doesn’t count) this season three clip shows how excessive cell phone usage could tear your family apart.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5uPHr65QV0

If only someone could pull Mr. Morris aside and let him know what the future would bring. Cell phones today can essentially serve as your lifeline. So many people would be devastated – if not a bit lost – if their phone disappeared. Even if they make a quick stop at the grocery store and leave their phone at home, there’s an instant disconnect. “What if someone is trying to reach me?”

Personally,  I’m a bit of a hypocrite – while I can easily forget my dinky little Samsung in my purse for a day, I grow weary and concerned if I call my family and can’t immediately reach them. I understand that the fear is completely irrational, but the whole attitude of constantly being connected in some form can make even brief spans of inaccessibility completely nerve-wracking. Of course, my mind always wanders towards the worst case scenarios: “What if they were stabbed?”

I think the most important part of cell phone usage is making sure where to draw the line. By not giving your phone the pressure of being your second brain, you alleviate the need to constantly check up with it during the day. Even if this means memorizing two or three of your close friend’s phone numbers – which seems like a daunting task now, but something we all excelled at as kids. And I need to remember that even if my Dad doesn’t pick up, it means he could be out with family or friends. Which is exactly what I want him to do.

We should also stop reaching for our phones while we’re catching up with friends. You have no clue how many times I’ve seen a circle of girls typing away on their phones while completely ignoring each other during a night out. Whenever I’m in the midst of a conversation and see a friend get distracted by an incoming text, I think it’s kind of rude. Then I wonder… Am I really that boring?

In summary, I think it’s important to know that you don’t always need to be technologically connected. It’s okay if you put your phone on silent for a night. It’s also okay if you can’t update your facebook status while going out for sushi with friends. I’m not even going to lecture on talking or texting while driving, since we should all know by now how dangerous that could be. While cell phones should enhance our lives, they shouldn’t be so important that we aren’t ourselves without them, nor should we be more focused on broadcasting our events instead of actually enjoying them to the fullest.

Friends? Let me hear it. How long do you think you could survive sans-cell phone? Are you an old curmudgeon like me, who doesn’t even have Internet capabilities on their phone? Are you guilty of texting-while-socializing? And finally, is anyone willing to downgrade to the Saved by the Bell model? I’d give it a shot. I mean, at least it’d never get lost.

Photo Credit: crazygirlnation.com

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