Lock The Screen And Get Out There

May 8, 2014

Do you think the world would cave in if everyone’s cell phones were turned off? Just for a day?

Last weekend, a dear friend said to me, “Where are all of our friends?” It seems so dramatic and trivial. We both have plenty of friends, but sometimes I see one of my “good friends” in public and it feels like one of those awkward moments when you run into someone at the grocery store whom you haven’t seen in five years.

I’m going to consider it kismet that the newest socially driven viral video about how lonely we are, and how despicable social media is, showed up on my Twitter feed the next day. If you haven’t seen it already, check it out.

“Look Up” writer and director Gary Turk reads a poem telling people to “look up from your phone, shut down the display, take in your surroundings and make most of today.”

Like most viral videos that have a hint of controversy, there has been plenty of debate on the thought-provoking-yet-“hypocritical” nature of the message and its delivery.

My experience with the video had me thinking:

  • With more than 500 friends on Facebook, I can maybe name 10 that I would actually want to spend my free time with
  • Say what you will about text messages ruining relationships, but if I had to live with people calling my land line and wait for someone to respond to a voice mail recording, I would need to be institutionalized
  • Social media has brought so many people together. There’s no denying how it can be used to positively foster relationships. “Look Up” brings up that crazy idea of moderation
  • I’m guilty of pretending to be on my phone when I don’t want to talk to someone, or avoid an awkward situation. I think it’s fair to argue that’s both a positive and negative consequence

So, what’s the harm in trying? I would challenge all of you to:

o   Go on an adventure without your GPS. I travelled a bit in Europe without a smartphone and have lived to tell the tale. I even used (gasp) a real map. (It was ruined after one day; I couldn’t even fold that foreign object). I promise, the best memories come from the adventures of getting “lost.”

o   Have a “no cell phone” weekend. Physically go to your friend’s apartment and see if they want to hang. Chances are they won’t be there, or think you’re crazy for not texting them first. But they’ll remember the gesture.

o   Ladies: Try not taking a selfie in the bathroom the next time you’re at the club. (Sneak it in before you leave…I’m a firm supporter in documenting when your hair looks good)

There are countless ways to do it, but the main idea is that we shouldn’t have to feel lonely when there’s so much connecting us. No matter your opinion, “Look Up” reminds us of the importance that making real impressions is to our relationships and to get back to the basics.