I Don’t Like My Smartphone, and I Don’t Like Yours Either

I got my first smart phone (an iPhone, ugh, whywhywhy) a few months ago, and only made the transition from a generic brand Blackberry (which I called my Razzberry) because it was actually cheaper for me to break down and get a fancy internet/robot phone.

I thought it would be nice to have a GPS with me at all times (but I still just use Mapquest on a desktop computer and copy down the directions onto a sticky note before traveling), and to be able to Tweet on the go (but I still do all my Tweeting from a desktop computer when I am rooted at home). I guess I’m old-fashioned. Or, just, like, old.

I actually don’t like my smartphone at all, and I admit that it’s probably because I don’t bother taking advantage of all its hip features. I use it to text, call, and occasionally check my Facebook wall. That’s it. But I don’t just dislike my smartphone… I dislike yours too. You (and I’m generalizing, sorry) look at it too much. You take it on bike rides and whip it out every time you pull over for a water break. You take photos of your dinner and then share them with the world. You text while I’m talking to you. You watch fireworks through your phone’s video camera instead of with your own eyes. You freak out any time your phone isn’t in plain site. In short, you’re obsessed. And this should not bother me… But it does.

Maybe I just don’t get it. I’m a loner. I rarely get texts. Facebook notifications are far and few between. I don’t post selfies to the web, or use Instagram. My web presence is nothing impressive. But what is it that causes you to be so obsessed with your phone? Why are you afraid to leave it behind for even an hour?

And honestly, why do I even care? I think that social media and texting allows us to stay connected with those who are geographically distant from us. We can learn about people we’d never get to know otherwise. This is great. But isn’t it equally important to be able to just enjoy ourselves?

Isn’t it crucial that we allow ourselves to be alone at times? That we get off Twitter and talk to real birds instead? I live for moments when I’m away from the noise of the world. I love the weekends I spend unplugged. It’s important to be social and embrace the world around us, social media and all, but it’s crucial that we take time to ourselves… And to cherish the moments of being with someone face to face, and not just on FaceTime.

Louis C.K. gets it.

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Writing Unplugged

One of my favorite (or at least most rewarding) things to do is spend an entire morning on my deck working on an essay, researching, and reading books. I love the cool breeze paired with my hot coffee. I love the natural light and the surrounding wildlife. I like when big, dozy bumble bees hover around me, mistaking my floral dress for actual flowers.

This past weekend, I broke out my typewriter and was even visited by a good friend of mine (yes, she’s a chicken, and shortly after this photo was taken she began to peck at my bruises).

JJTypewriter It felt so nice to be outside, surrounded by fresh air. This was on Saturday, and I challenged myself to stay away from my computer until 5:00 pm. Only then could I check my email, update my blog, or check the Sunday weather forecast. If I wanted to check a fact or look up a word, I was forced to put it off or use a dictionary. It was liberating.

Although I rarely check my phone and can easily go entire weekends without the internet, I do find that it can sometimes be a challenge to resist the lure of the internet, even while I’m writing. It’s become so easy to look up sources, to check my facts, to read reviews of a book I’m studying. These are great things. But it’s also easy to fall into dangerous habits, like taking multiple Facebook breaks, watching mind-numbing Youtube videos, and scrolling through the Twitter feeds of total strangers.

Writing unplugged from the internet, either in notebooks or on a typewriter, is absolutely liberating. Picking up a dictionary and carefully learning a new word is an activity I cherish, and marking my reading with sticky notes instead of browser tabs is a great habit.

From now on, I’m going to challenge myself to do the bulk of my weekend writing on my typewriter or in my old Moleskine. I’m more productive when I’m not enticed by the web, and I find that I don’t look for the easy way out of questions. If I want to know why Eliot quoted Baudelaire, I don’t type it into a search engine… I go pick up The Flowers of Evil.

Here’s to a more productive, more liberating summer!