Are You Living a Phone-Driven Life?

In the Silicon Valley we love our techie gadgets. Especially our phones. We use them for…

  • texting
  • directions
  • social networking
  • music
  • photographs
  • banking
  • dinner reservations
  • taxis

and a bezillion other things. We have become a phone-driven society. #101thingsyoursmartphonecandoforyou has become the guidebook for living in the 21st century.

Lately I’ve been feeling like we are all way too connected to our phones. Way too dependent on them. If we forget it somewhere and don’t have it with us, we feel incomplete. What are we supposed to do when we have a few extra minutes and we don’t have our phone to check Facebook or send a text or listen to music?!

There’s just something not right about that. Could all the convenience that our smartphones provide be causing us to miss out on something else? Something more important?

Tuned in and tuned out
Tuned In and Tuned Out

Shortly after we moved into the Silicon Valley, I joined a gym. I was expecting it to be like my gym experience in Phoenix, where we talked to each other and became friends as we logged miles on the treadmill together at 6:00am. It’s totally different here. Almost everyone, and I mean in the neighborhood of 95%, works out with their phone plugged into their ears. The message comes through loud and clear – “Don’t bother me. I’m busy listening to… something.”

When Steve Jobs put the first iPhone on the market, his goal was to help people connect with each other. That’s also why when he was at Pixar, instead of having employees hidden away in separate offices and buildings, he started the trend of having everyone surrounding one large shared space, with a lot of areas where people could bump into each other and connect with each other and share ideas.

Made For Making Connections
Made For Making Connections

The gym I work out at is a large open space. It’s a place where people could easily bump into each other. Where people could connect and friendships could be made. But for the most part it doesn’t happen. We’re separated by our phones. Alone in a large open space that is filled with people. Odd, isn’t it? The guy that was so focused on helping people connect created a device that’s done more in recent years to disconnect people from each other.

Lately I’ve been consciously trying to stop myself when I find myself automatically reaching for my phone when I really don’t need it for anything. And instead of checking emails or Facebook, I intentionally tell myself to look around. To connect with the people who are near me – whether they are friends, family, co-workers, or even total strangers. That is, assuming I can find someone who isn’t lost in their phone.

By Dave Gudgel