According to the app it is raining

Not without my iPhone

I am at the station waiting for my train, due in 5 minutes. It’s a great opportunity to stand there and breathe in and out a couple of times. New air, new inspiration. Out with the old, in with the new. It takes just one minute to decompress. To tell the truth, it looks like all my fellow travelers today could do with taking a breath or two into their system. On my left (8 meters or so on my left, the safe distance in Sweden for avoiding human contact with strangers, God so scary!) I have a pretty young girl taking selfies. She doesn’t seem happy with the first ten shots so she keeps doing faces, tilting her head and posing until the result satisfies her. Then she starts sending this piece of art to all her friends. By her movements I’d guess she is snapchatting; there’s nothing as good as a “like” from an absent acquaintance to boost one’s confidence these days.

 

On my right are several people, all of them with earphones plugged in. If it was difficult to start a conversation with a stranger before, nowadays it is almost impossible: “Excuse me, could you please take off your headset so I can say hello to you?” Such horrendous audacity would probably get you removed from society. If saying hi to strangers already gets you pegged as an eccentric lunatic, imagine saying hi to people who send a clear signal that they DON’T want to be addressed? That would be suicidal!

A little bit further away is a couple. Two people who could interact with each other without risking being put away. But why bother? Both seem to have more interesting friends in some other, apparently far more appealing place. Is the digital world so much better than life lived in the moment? Such insane behavior! I get really disturbed when people in my company choose to pick up their phones instead of giving their full attention to what they are experiencing, live! But hey, that’s me.

The train arrives and I install myself in my seat. In front of me a woman in her mid-forties takes a picture of her coffee mug and posts it on Instagram (her mobile display reflecting on the window). I cannot really decide which is more dysfunctional. Taking a picture of a cup or commenting on the posting of someone who has taken a picture of a cup. Your call. Her daughter has only one earphone in, the other one hanging over her shoulder. Such a lovely gesture! Really nice to have at least half of someone’s attention. Much appreciated, I must say.

I confess that I like my smartphone. Quite a bit. It does a lot of wonderful things for me. I can check my bank account. I can send an e-mail and get messages from my family among ten thousand other functions, but if the day comes when I’d rather check the weather app than look out of my window, then I will seek help. Many people should already be seeking help now.

  • Do we really need to be available24/7? Is it healthy?
  • How many times a day do you pick up your smartphone?
  • Do you panic when your battery is getting low?
  • Do you have your cell phone on the table when having dinner with friends? Do you maybe opt to put it on vibrate mode, an accepted “normal” mode for well-mannered individuals who don’t want to bother you with the noise, but only with their distracted behaviour?

It is like a drug, and as with all drugs, you don’t notice the addiction. You just need it. The stress that accompanies this constant escape from the moment will cost. Many are already paying a high price without even realizing it.

Can you…

… wake up without taking a look at your mobile?

… roll up the blind instead of checking the weather app?

… hear an sms tone without compulsively rushing to the phone?

… resist checking what your so-called “friends” eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner?

… go to the bathroom and just pee?

… give your complete attention to the person in front of you?

… be unavailable for 2 hours? 5? 10? 12? 24?

 

The happiest moments in life do not require 4G coverage. I don’t know about you, but I will take my chances and continue to be abnormal.

/Silvia