“I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.” – Albert Einstein
So, here we are. February 7th. A couple of months ago or, wait…maybe it was longer than that…I made a bet with one of my regulars about who would win the Super Bowl. Months earlier we had made a bet about how many runs the Royals would make in the World Series. I said 32 and he said 37. I won. The wager? For my regular it was no Diet Coke for three months. Lucky me. If he had won? No alcohol for Becci for three months (I am forever indebted to the boys in blue. I seriously owe each of them a favor). This time around, the rules were simple. I could either have first pick, my regular the next four picks, then me all the rest of the NFL teams or the other way around. I let him pick first. He chose the Patriots.
Now, I don’t follow the NFL at all. I’m Nebraska born and bred. If it isn’t college ball, I’m not interested. Enlisting the help of a fanatical coworker my next four picks were as follows – Chiefs, Panthers, Cardinals, Packers. He got the rest. The wager this time around? No social media for three months – I’m not sure what his deal is with the number three, but it seems to be the standard for lost bet punishment. Nevertheless! Here we are.
I was lucky enough in my pre-handshake negotiations to rule out my blog. I pleaded my case that it was going to be my New Years resolution, and if I were to be cut off from it one month in it would be doomed, thus defeating the purpose of said resolution. He obliged, so long as I’m not the one to hit the post button. Fair enough, I suppose. So, as I sit here tonight unable to scroll through the litany of post Super Bowl commentary on my Facebook or troll all the opinions of the “SB50” hashtaggers on my Twitter feed, it got me thinking about how I’m going to fill all that free time, and here’s the thing…
We are on our phones. A lot. Seriously, so much. Think about it. When you’re in line at the grocery store, or stuck at a red light, or at a boring party, or when you’re in bed but you can’t fall asleep – what are you doing? You’re stooped over looking at your phone. Checking Facebook or reading emails or double tapping pictures on Instagram or taking a selfie with your mouth open and your eyebrows raised and snapping it to thirteen different contacts. Shit, maybe you’re like my husband and whenever you have a free minute you’re scrolling through posts on Reddit just for something to do. Something to fill the void. I see people all the time, out to eat and just sitting across the booth from each other staring at their phones. Parents pushing their kids in strollers at the park, one hand on the stroller on hand on the phone – thumb mindlessly swiping from the bottom of the screen to the top. People in traffic furiously swipe keyboard texting as they drift over the line, caustically jerking their car back into the lane when their peripheral vision kicks in.
Why do we fill every spare minute on those damn phones? I’m guilty of it as well. I’m a notorious red light texter. When it’s dead at work I’m mindlessly scrolling through all of the recipe shares and eyebrow selfies and hashtags and ranting posts on my news feed. It’s just become a part of the routine. For as “social” as this media is, it’s effect is the opposite. People don’t talk anymore, they text. Instead of making small talk with the stranger next to them at the DMV, they snap a picture of their bored face to a dozen friends. Getting people to interact with each other in public anymore is like pulling teeth. Why, though? When did we become so detached? When did what everyone else is doing become more important than the current moment? It’s amazing how far technology has come in such a short length of time, but the faster it progresses the more I wish our reliance on it lessened. Especially when it comes to the mindless filling of free time. To sound one hundred percent trite, our time is precious. Why waste it hunched over, eyes glued to a screen?
The next three months may be a struggle for me. I’ll have to find other ways to bide my down time, but perhaps this is for the best. While I doubt very much that my social media abstinence will make even a smidgen of a dent in the grand scheme of things, it just may – for at least three months, anyway – force me out of my comfort zone and the next time I find myself alone in public with time to kill perhaps I’ll make a new friend instead of a crick in my neck.