'cellf' absorbed

don’t look unless you want to be taken back a little. the crazy thing is your probably within one foot of it and it is absorbing you. slowly.

so many things in life that i want to learn. if i could implant some microchip in my brain and instantly learn kung fu, spanish, how to cook breakfast, and a full knowledge of architecture i would. but learning takes time, and anyone will tell you that to really master something you must practice for 10,000 hours. i don’t have that much time, i just need more time. we can find time, perhaps its that we don't really want to look in depth where our time is actually going.

curiosity is the beginning of learning, you have to be somewhat interested in a topic for you to fully explore it. sir issac newton holed up on in his room on a summer break from college in his early twenties with a prism and changed our entire thinking on light and color. imagine if he had access to internet radio and the app store, would we even know his name?

everything in moderation. i can’t imagine a life before my ‘phone’, after all i found this coffee shop that i am at writing this using my smartphone. there is a need for it, i keep in contact with home and friends, i discover new music, i am even listening to a history class from yale using itunesu. our world is smaller because of technological advance, with opportunities to learn and progress and it fits in our pocket. but then what. are we learning and growing or are we consumed and addicted.

last night we had ‘family dinner’, which is just the guys on the bus going out to eat all together on the day off. we played a game where we all set our phones in the middle of the table and said the first one to pick it up before the tabs get there has to buy a meal. i have to be honest, it was harder than one would think. someone would say something about a video and i immediately wanted to see it, someone would mention a random fact and i wanted to double check it. you are not alone in your addiction… trust me.

i love post-apocalyptic literature and films, the lead character is usually trying to eek out some time of survivalist existence. if i am honest with myself i am sometimes jealous. sure he has no shelter and does not know where his next meal is from but he is also not obsessed with checking twitter or emails marked important like i am.

are you ready to look yet? i am letting you know that you will probably be taken aback a little. under your setting there is a usage button on most phones. check your cellular usage. i did. i have been on my phone almost a week of my life, and this is a newer phone one of many i have owned. one week of my life has been spent with this machine to my ear. on my death bed i will wish for that week back.

my phone is ringing. ironic. i am going to let this call go.


Anonymous said…
This is something I've really been thinking a lot about lately. I've had a smartphone for three years and I've come to realize that in the long run their more crippling than helpful. Great post as usual Stephen.
Andrew Planeta said…
I totally understand what you mean with time and using it in a way where we can leave our technology behind, and like you said the smartphone is amazing but it consumes our lives. I'm on one now reading this blog post after seeing the twitter update that was posted lol! I mean in a way it relaxes us and keeps minds close..if used for the right reasons. Checking our phones, inboxes, messages, updates, etc has turned into habits which consumes our clocks, and we can't break clocks...sometimes when you have been granted a celebrity status, you have obligations and responsibilities to the fans and community which inherits the mind to communicate with friends, family, and various strangers. And then there's the obligation of constant updating life/world events related to the participant directly. We just want everyone to stay involved and not miss out on the many events that are continuously being planned. If a break is needed , then it would be truly healthy to take one once the job has been completed and accomplished. The harder things in life usually lead others in the right direction, even when it's taking a break from the new world social media . So if putting your phone in your dresser drawer and leaving it there for awhile is hard, then it might be a good idea to do.
Alice said…
Man, this hits home for me.
I spent some time in India a couple years ago, and one of the many things I learned there was how freeing It felt to not have the things I am usually addicted to and distracted by when living my daily life in America. I miss that feeling of freedom.
It's not just smartphones stealing our time. It's other electronics, shopping for things we really don't need, movies, and tv. It's more than time, it's money too (yet another thing we take for granted in America).
I'm not saying all these things are bad, but it's definitely a little disturbing to realize just how much time we spend with our things instead of those we love.

Thanks for this post.
What a reminder.
Anonymous said…
I read this and agreed instantly. But at the same time, there's the other side of the problem, that's it's not quite our fault - we're naturally curious creatures, aren't we? So we have a need to pay attention to everything and everyone and know everything and keep up with the now-absurd speed life moves at. I've wanted to go without my phone sometimes, really wanted to, but it seems to have become impossible, both because you're addicted to it, and because society won't let us not be.
But at the same time, as much as we can, I wish we were more able to get away from all the updates for some time. I went on vacation to another country once with my family, and even the excitement of being somewhere else ultimately made me want to go get my phone and post about it, and it drove me kind of crazy the first couple hours that I couldn't use my phone because of the fees there'd be in the foreign country, and the less-widespread availability of wifi and such.
I think the latter might have more to do, though, with our attachment to people that can rarely always be with us.. I tried to go without the internet for a week, and couldn't do it for longer than three days because I was feeling really down and needed the support a close friend of mine, that just wasn't literally close by. When good things happen we'd like to share them with people that are important to us - not all 32847293473289472 facebook friends, but people we actually care about, because they matter to us, and we matter to them.
It would be nice to have a way to turn frivolous things off from time to time, though. I think we got so excited with technology's capabilities that we didn't notice the point at which something like eating a sandwich for lunch was clearly not important enough to post to instagram. Keeping up with only the few most important people or events would be better. It'd take a bit of pressure off of us, too.
But society is never kind enough to make life simpler or easier for us, is it...
Laura said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laura said…
there is so much that i want to learn in life. now is a great time to step back and think about what i should really pursue with the limited amount of time that i have. i've gotta be intentional and aware of what i do with my time. thanks for posting.
Tracie Ferguson said…
I use mine way to much too. It's sad that we struggle to live in the moment and enjoy the company of others. Not only are we wasting our time, but I think we're missing out. Smart phones and computers allow us to know anything without really engaging with the actual source (a person). We cut out meaningful conversations and the opportunity to get to know new people along with their knowledge. It's just too easy. While technology allows us to communicate with people across the globe, I would much rather have a conversation with all of those who have commented (and Stephen of course!).
shanrocks777 said…
Definitely not cellf absorbed. I haven't had one of those things since..Since I last said I didn't have one. Wow, has it been that long?

Well now thinking back, when I did have one, it kept me company. Was it real company or time wasted company, it's hard to say? I do know that our society *expects* us to have a cell. Nobody has time to wait until you get home to tell you something... Heck, some people seem to have developed a talking on the phone vocally phobia or something and can't be bothered to communicate any other way than text. And of course, we all know how psycho land line texting sounds, so I get none of that, lol. Yah, I've been out of the loop. I don't have cable t.v. or facebook either.

However, I did just complete a college diploma. I doubt having a cell or cable would intefere with getting that education, but it sure has eased the cost of going back to school to not have these things.

It really puts modern life into perspective when not having these modern social media devices at your fingertips can practically make you feel obsolete at times. Maybe if I wasn't so busy, it would sting more, but by the time I've slowed down enough to realize just how far I've separated myself from the norm, I'll probably already have all of these devices back at my disposal.

I'm glad you've remembered to post on Modesty Writers Guild again. I miss these little hang outs and your musingss.
Latrina said…
Wow. This hit home for me. I have the constant urge to learn more... to experience more... to grow as a person. Well, I checked my phone usage... 9 days. Nine days I have lost of my life -- and the sad thing, my phone is only a year old. :|

And to think all that I could have done in those nine days... the places I could have explored... the books I could have read... and the people I could have met... but on the other hand, with that said phone I'm able to keep in contact with my family that's 2,500 miles away. I'm able to type out my thoughts when I feel inspired to.

I am completely compelled to stories like Into the Wild... and documentaries of people exploring new lands, with nothing but a van, no technology... just them... and the road. SOMEDAY.
Anonymous said…
This is a very interesting post, and coincidentally my phone had broken a few months ago. At the time I was annoyed as obviously I need my phone for calls and texts as well as emails/social networking.

But now I don't actually miss it, only on a few occasions where I actually NEEDED to check my email. But otherwise, I don't find that I miss the information overload that can happen at times. Being distracted by social networks, my activity on these sites has been drastically reduced and I find myself not the least bit bothered. And not having a phone that can do these things has made me realise that when I'm in a group conversation (or even some one on one conversations!) that it is very annoying when someone is intermittently looking down at their phone while talking to you. I haven't intentionally done this before, but I'm sure I have done so on a few occasions. A lot of people do this.

Smartphones these days have useful features like being able to search online for certain things like you mentioned, but that's the only main thing that I miss if I'm honest. I can check my emails on my laptop. It'll be interesting to see how things change when I get a new phone. But as with many things in life, that'll be easier to notice in hindsight... What a wonderful thing.
Laura said…
i'm not alone in this. cool
Robert Cochran said…
So if we all had phones that just made calls, like the old days (early 2000's), would that free up more time? Wouldn't we just spend more time on our desktop computers? That may at the least save our eye sight. But as far as quality of time/content, what are some of the things that we miss doing before our iPhones came around?
Worst Nightmare said…
Haha, I love how the title of the post is "cellf-absorbed" because it portrays exactly how we all are part of a generation that is reliant on technology in our daily lives. Either through cell-phones, computers, other electronics, you-name-it; we are all consumed (or even trapped) in this sort of unrealistic realm of uncountable wonders. We cherish it every moment of our lives but yet we will also perish with it. It’s almost unimaginable to think how we would be like if there were no such technology to keep us connected with the world and with our friends/families/and relatives.
I remember just a month ago, my professor for one of my classes, told us to shut off our phones and turn off our laptops and endure what he called ‘the technological sabbath’ where we would dedicate three hours of our class time to not use any of our electronics. It felt very strange at first because it seemed like the world started revolving in the slowest motion possible. It was like time stretched to infinity…

I agree it is hard to let go of our obsessions. But it’s not impossible.

Great discussion post, could go on hours and hours talking about it :)
samantha said…
i personally believe that technology is a blessing. without it, we wouldn't be updated about whatever tickles our fancy. it helps us learn new things, it helps us connect with the world.

since i live in the Philippines, without technology i don't think i would know who you are and how talented you are.

from your music to your literature, i thank technology for helping me discover you.

Brando said…
Awesome- As a huge anberlin fan, I sometimes have trouble connecting experiences and songs that seem to take place (many times) in cities with the rural culture in the mountains of New Hampshire where I live- Yet we are just as into our cell phones and facebook accounts as other young people... Yet it also begs a similar question, "will the big stores and social media eventually take away all our little stores and the simple acts, such as getting coffee with a friend for a face-to-face chat?' Is it sad, or inevitable, or just where things are headed? Regardless, I think it is important to keep "family dinners" close and the simple enjoyment of stargazing or sitting by a fire with friends, even closer.
PS- thanks for saying hi to my friend in the wheel chair in Boston two Octobers ago!! :)
You weren't kidding when you said you might be taken aback a little if you look...

As I was reading your post, I kept saying to myself, "I'm not THAT reliant on my phone..." & then I checked. Clearly I'm delusional about how often I actually rely upon modern technology for communication. I've had my current phone since the end of October, 2011. 11 days, 10 hours. That's how much time I've spent talking on the phone. Not to mention countless additional hours of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Texting, etc. How could I let this happen?

To be honest with you, I often fantasize about a simpler life. My friends & family chastise me for it., saying it's impossible in the world we live in today. I dream of finding some remote island far away that has yet to be discovered & just...starting over. My heart breaks for the world we live in. I feel like we (society as a whole) keep making the same mistakes. We're demanding, fastidious, oblivious to so much of what's going on around us because we're too concerned about how quickly we need to get from where we are to where we're supposed to be, wishing we could defy the laws of physics to make it happen. I just want to scream "STOP." so I can catch my breath. Life moves at breakneck speeds & we rely so heavily upon technology so we can keep up.

Sure, it SEEMED like a good idea. Now I can talk to my colleagues on the phone while I'm traveling, get updates on projects from my professors at all hours, call the restaurant I'm on my way to so they know I'll be arriving 5 minutes late for my reservation...but now we're going at full speed 24 hours a day. God forbid I don't respond to an email within a day...or to some friends, a text message within 10 minutes. A secret part of me just wants to smash my phone into a trillion bits & walk away.

As much as I hate to see what mindless beings we can become in the presence of technology, it's been such a blessing to this world, as well. For example, how could we ever know the extent of what's happening in the Middle East & parts of Africa, North Korea, Israel, Egypt, etc. without technology? To simplify it: technology has made us aware of the worsening condition of mankind, but distracted so many of us to keep us from noticing or caring enough. I love & admire those who give up parts of their lives & such precious time to travel to these places in an attempt to make a difference. Whether it be soldiers, missionaries, or organizations like the Peace Corps, they further my faith that not all hope is lost & there's still a bit of humanity left in humans.

I would give anything for those 11-some days back. Time is so precious & our time on this earth is so limited. It's one of my worst fears to die without making an impact. Think of all of the ideas I could have had, the countless lives I could have touched, the experiences I could have had with all of those days I wasted on the phone.

With all of my heart I want to give up my technology & just GO. No destination in mind, just somewhere to do something, to BE something. Is it possible? I'm not sure. Hopefully I'll someday muster up the courage to try. I'll live a whole new way, create a different kind of life & do who knows what amazing things.

Thanks for the mind & soul food. Much needed & appreciated. I thrive on intellectual conversation & find it's hard to come by. Hope to see you write here again soon.
Jen Pitch said…

I have two phones. What does that make me?!

Surprisingly, I don't make a lot of calls on mine, but I am connected with my parents through blackberry messaging; they live ever so far away.

But the fact that I hardly even talk on the phone with people anymore is quite a sad thought, isn't it? You watch teen movies these days and all they ever do is text each other. And although the archive function is wonderful, there's nothing better than hearing someone's voice on the other end of the line.

I remember talking to my friends for hours on end as a teenager. You'd only hang up for dinner and when your mother made you go and do your homework.

I honestly can't remember talking to someone on the phone for over 2 hours since 2006.

I miss those days.

Now it's facebook and twitter and blogs (all of which I am utterly guilty of using!).

When I'm standing all alone at a club or party and I don't know anyone around me, my first instinct is to text someone or open twitter. Is it that hard to say hello to a stranger these days?

It's as bad as the amount of people who sit on the train with their headphones on.

We think we're more connected to people because we have this communication device but, really, we're just millions of people standing shoulder to shoulder completely isolated from one another.

Next time you're on public transport, strike up a conversation with the person next to you.
Very good points. Technology has changed our way of life in a big way. I just hope we don't forget how to talk to each other person-to-person.
The Outlaw said…
Not so!!!!
The Outlaw said…
challange me Stephen!
The Outlaw said…
come on dude! you've lost your soul!
Anonymous said…
Are you ever going to post a blog again ? I have been waiting for forever it seems.

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