A friend told me that back in the early aughts, it was customary for talent agents to whip out their cell phones during meetings to show that they had more important matters to attend to. Nowadays, who doesn't do that? Of course it may not be a power play anymore. It's just become habit. But when's the last time you had a face-to-face human interaction -- a work meeting, dinner with a friend, a concert or sporting event -- and the smartphone wasn't at the very least sitting on the table or, even more egregiously, being used to upload photos of the meal*, check in on Foursquare or live tweet one's summer vacation, rather than enjoy it?
I am guilty of all of the above (except Facebooking pictures of my food. I will never do that unless I find a roach in my Salade Nicoise). On HuffPost Live last week after posting the blog about my WAIT tattoo, Jeremy Vandehey from Redbox chimed in via Google Hangout and suggested we all try to "keep it in our pants." What a simple and yet profound idea. Keep the phone in my pants, or purse, or man purse, or fanny pack, or whatever I'm carrying my crap in. Just leave it there. Don't take it out. The phone does not need to be the third wheel, flashing and beeping, trying to yank my attention away from the human being a foot away who is trying to tell me a funny story or simply ring up my groceries.
I'm not sure how we got so accustomed to allowing the phone into our human moments. Maybe it's because our bosses got used to being able to get a hold of us at any time, like when we're out at lunch or home putting the kids to bed. It also may be that the phone is an easy crutch. If I don't like the way a conversation is going, if I feel insecure, I can always glance at my phone. It's a way for me to feel important, to show my companion that I, like the aforementioned agents, definitely have "people." It's high time for me to pull out the crutch and fall clumsily to the floor. In doing so, I hope to shift my perspective on the power dynamic, to turn the tables on "phonies" who use their phones to take the upper hand and instead start viewing those with the courage to keep it in their pants as the power players. Or at the very least, to remember that playing with my phone when out with people is just plain rude.
To wit, I declare from this day forth that "Keep it in Your Pants" is the new cool. It's a simple phrase that'll help me remember to leave the phone behind when face-to-face with actual people, kind of like the "What would Jesus do?" of 2014. And, if I know me, I'll have it tattooed on my finger in no time.
*I know it sounds mean, but who cares what you're eating? Are there actual people out there who want to consume "what my friends are eating" photos? If so, please make yourselves known... but this is a blog for another time.
This post is part of Look Up, a series produced by The Huffington Post and Cat Greenleaf of NBC's Talk Stoop about the benefits of disconnecting from our devices and re-connecting with our sense of wonder at the world around us. If you are taking steps to unplug and Look Up, email email@example.com to share your story. And use both hashtags #LookUp and #ThirdMetric to share photos on Twitter and Instagram of the things that inspire wonder in you.
Follow Cat Greenleaf on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@catgreenleaf