It hit me the other day while I was standing at my son's baseball game. I heard the thunder in the distance, I felt a drop on my arm. I didn't grab an umbrella. I didn't go back to the car. No. I took out my phone and checked the weather, like every other parent around me. Hello? It's raining! That's the weather. We felt it. We saw it. But there we were, trying to keep our phones dry as we checked the weather.
Apparently, I've become a dumb person with a really smartphone because my phone knew it was raining. And I actually confirmed it. "Yep, rain." That's what my phone said. By now I was pretty wet, but I guess I just couldn't grasp the fact that it was raining until my phone told me.
That's the incident that got me thinking of the other ways my phone has changed my life. I have no idea how I used to entertain myself. I've become consumed with word and number games. BTP (before the phone), I didn't play scrabble every day or try to double numbers to reach some unattainable goal. But now it's mindless, addictive nonsense that I must do!
I used to be able to attend to a conversation. Now I can have a conversation with six people at once via text while some real human is talking to me. But am I really paying attention to any of it? Nope. Now I'm mindless and rude.
I used to be able to go places by asking someone how to get there. Remember being a kid and driving somewhere far with your parents? It could've been a zoo or a museum, or maybe you even left the state. I'm pretty sure when Dad drove us to Disney he used a map, then as he got closer he asked people. And we always made it where we wanted to go. Yes, on occasion we got lost, but we eventually got where we wanted to be.
Now I type an address into my phone and I wait for it to tell me which way to go. In my head I'm saying, "Pull out of the driveway, you know it's south, just start to drive and when you get closer you'll figure it out." But I don't listen to me. I wait for my phone to tell me what to do. And guess what? I get lost. A lot. I swear that GPS voice is taunting me. Just the other day I was looking for a baseball field. I know, shocker. I was listening intently as she barked commands at me. "In one quarter mile turn left ... Make a U-turn if possible." When finally she said, "Destination." I stopped dead in the middle of the road. I looked to my left... a llama farm. No joke. I looked to my right... woods. I actually thought for a minute: Could they really be playing baseball here? Of course not, fool! It's a llama farm. So I kept driving.
I eventually called the coach. There's a plus to having the phone; I didn't have to pull over, get out of the car, dig out my dimes or make a collect call, but let's be realistic, who pays attention to the way they get anywhere anymore. He probably also followed a voice saying "turn left" and "destination." Only his smartphone must have been smarter because he was on a baseball field and I was, well I don't know where I was.
I retyped in the address. I tried again. The kid in the back seat was googling "baseball fields in my area." Definitely a futile attempt. I drove on. I approached the llama farm from the opposite direction. Again, "destination." What the hey? But this time, I looked around. I saw a police station. I vaguely remembered someone saying that the field was behind a police station. How had I not noticed that on the way before? The telltale sign that said "Municipal Building, " the police cars in the lot. Was it there before?
I turned, even though the voice didn't tell me to. In fact, I'm always kind of waiting to hear the satellite voice say, "If you aren't going to follow my advice, don't ask me." But it didn't. And guess what? There it was, right around the bend. I parked the car, the kids ran into the dugout just in time. No harm done (except for the one who was getting a little car sick from the extra half hour in the car).
I settled into my chair, felt the hot sun on my skin instantly. Then I took out my phone to check the weather. Yep, hot and sunny, that's what my phone said.
Visit me at www.lifeinthefrathouse.wordpress.com
Look Up is 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.