I flunked. No doubt about it.
Remember that pledge I made to “lighten up on the iPhone” this year and become “a smarter user about when and where to use it”? Yeah, that one.
Here’s how I fell short:
On Friday night, Lori and I went to see the Trail Blazers. They easily beat the Atlanta Hawks in a lopsided game that had people leaving early. I didn’t want to go, though, because I wanted to stay until the final buzzer, when the confetti rains down to signal a Portland victory. And, truth be told, I wanted to get a couple of photos to post on Facebook after the game.
As the game was winding down, a young man seated to our right began chatting us up. He and his date were friendly and, as one question led to another, we found ourselves talking about our marriage and our three kids. The guy had moved around a bit and was intrigued that our youngest child had moved from the Seattle area to the middle of Missouri after graduating from college
As he and Lori conversed, I found myself checking the remaining time on the scoreboard, wanting to be ready for the game-ending photos. The buzzer sounded and I got my pictures. We said goodnight to the couple and headed to the exit.
After we got home and I’d walked the dog, I selected some photos, wrote an intro and posted them, and went to bed. Next morning I was surprised to see something had gone wrong. No photos.
Was that a sign or what?
I could have taken the time to re-post, but I had to ask myself: Why? Who needs to know that you were at the game? Who cares if Portland won or lost?
And in that moment, I realized I had been a chump.
I’d been handed an opportunity to engage in friendly conversation with a stranger, and I’d chosen to focus on a meaningless photo or two. While Lori seized the moment to be present, I only half-listened because my attention was elsewhere.
Shame on me. I’d broken my resolution one day after I’d made it public.
Though I’d already recognized the error of my ways, a column by The Oregonian’s Tom Hallman Jr. popped up in my Facebook feed and drove home the point.
The piece describes the change of heart that Andrew Sullivan, a renowned journalist and author, had after shutting down his blog in 2015, after writing 115,000 posts and attracting millions of readers.
“One of the great mistakes people make is thinking, as I did for a while, that being online and on your phone constantly is a wonderful enhancement, an addition to what you are doing,” Sullivan said. “But over time, you realize you are present, or you are not.”
Sullivan contends that the phone, always accessible, makes us believe we are connected. Instead, it renders reflection and perspective more difficult, and blunts our capacity to capture moments with meaning.
I thought about this on Jan. 1 when I stood outside to look at the supermoon, a term for when the moon orbits closer to the Earth and appears to be larger and brighter than normal. Instinctively, I reached for my smartphone to take a picture to capture the moment.
And then I put the phone back in my pocket.
That’s what I need to do more of in 2018.
Editor’s note: Thank you, Lynn St. Georges, my friend and fellow Boomer, for sharing the link. Here’s the column: Technology, the smartphone and the battle for our soul
Smartphone photo: i.pinimg.com