When I was eleven, my best friend and I would talk endlessly on the phone. I remember pulling the cord as far as it would go, up and down the hallway. I don’t even know what we said to each other but there seemed to be a lot to say.
As an adult, I eschew the phone. I feel trapped by it. Even cordless, I am strangling.
The smartphone is different. I don’t use mine much for talking and when I’m having an actual face-to-face conversation with someone, I try to remember to put it down. In truth, I fought against getting a smart phone but was very quickly addicted to it once I had it. Even so, I’m struggling to see how it has enhanced my life. I’ve cut back already–no Facebook on the phone. No more words with friends. But still it calls me.
For a while, my son’s favorite movie was WALL-E. I remember watching it with him and becoming depressed at the scene where all of the humans are shuttling around on their chairs talking into devices. The scene is meant to represent a possible future but, in truth, we are there already.
I realize, I’ve come to use this device in the same way I used to use a cigarette. I use it when I am uncomfortable or alone. It makes it easier not to look and listen when all I should be doing is looking and listening and living in the moment. I tell myself that I need to capture these moments of my son’s childhood and post them out to the world, but do I? The pictures of me at his age are few, but my memories remain. I lived those moments for myself. They belonged to me and not the world. They still do. I wonder if I am robbing him and I do believe that maybe I am.
As a rule, I don’t make resolutions but this year I am. This year I am going to fight the urge to pick up the phone when all is quiet. I am going to fight the urge to pick it up and hold it in front of me when I should be using my own eyes instead.
I am going to look. I am going to listen. I am going to let the world be quiet.