by GEORGE P.H.
Last summer, I went to a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert. This was a dream come true for me: Kiedis & Co. aren’t getting any younger and I absolutely had to see them live while they’re still touring.
Midway through the concert I realized that, at any given time, 5+ people in my immediate vicinity were using their phones. Everyone was instagramming, facebooking, foursquaring, texting…
They didn’t even stop when Under the Bridge – only one of the best songs ever – came on.
My first thought was, are you kidding me. These people paid good money to see a legendary band… but were more interested in telling their friends about the concert than actually watching it.
Then I remembered that it’s 2012 and this is normal. People live in their phones now.
But they really shouldn’t – and here’s why.
Internet Addicts Anonymous
I belong to the last generation of children who grew up without internet access. As a kid, I had to wait for my favorite cartoons to come on if I wanted to be entertained.
Every Sunday I’d stake out in the living room, waiting for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to come on at 11. If I missed an episode, I had to wait a whole week to see my favorite cartoon.
And if the T.V. wasn’t enough entertainment for me, I had to go read a book or find a creative way to keep myself occupied.
It’s different for today’s kids. They’ve got the Internet, video games and TiVo. They can choose to be entertained whenever they feel like it – which is not a bad thing in and of itself.
What’s bad is how addicted this generation has become to being stimulated. Now that most phones are internet-enabled, we’ve got constant access to all our favorite distractions – and we abuse the shit out of that privilege.
Every day you see people Facebooking at work, watching shows on the bus and reading blogs at dinner. They can’t just enjoy the moment – they’re too used to being entertained all the time. Without their hourly fix of “fun”, they get jittery and distracted.
Yes, being able to have fun wherever you are is incredible, but it stops being incredible when you can’t stop doing it. Phones are a great way to stay entertained on the go but using them all the time will rob you of real-life experiences.
What’s the last time you sat through an entire dinner without texting; saw something cool without taking a photo; waited in line without distracting yourself? What’s the last time you chose real life over your phone?
I find it very disrespectful when I’m out with someone and they keep texting or browsing the internet. It’s like they’re saying: “I’d rather escape this moment than be here, with you, right now.”
But that’s exactly what you’re saying TO YOURSELF each time you use your phone as a distraction. You’re disrespecting your own company and the present moment by trying to escape from them.
Phones can be amazing. I use my iPhone to read books and listen to music every day, so I’m not one to judge.
Just don’t let those little devices distract you from the truly awesome things in life. (Red Hot Chili Peppers concerts, for example).
Oh, one more thing – social networks aren’t real life
Life is a popularity contest. First we want to impress our classmates, then we want to fit in at work, and later we want to keep up with the Joneses (do people still say that?).
With phones allowing people to access social networks from anywhere, the popularity contest never ends. Everyone wants to look good and get approval (in the form of likes, retweets, etc).
But how many of your Facebook friends really give a shit about you? Sorry if that’s too blunt, but let’s get honest for a second: a Facebook friend isn’t the same as a real friend.
Here’s my definition of “friend”: someone who’d drive for hours to lend you money they don’t even have if you called them at 4 A.M.. How many of your Facebook friends would do that? Exactly. So why does it matter how good you look to them, or how many likes they give you?
99% of the time, social networks are a huge circle jerk with everyone trying to make each other feel important. Facebook friends aren’t real friends and likes aren’t a good measure of how cool you truly are.None of it matters.
So focus on making real friends and living real life, not trying to look good online.
Am I saying social networks are the devil? No! I use them to stay in touch with friends who live overseas, follow stuff I’m interested in and invite people to large-scale events. They’re an amazing tool in their own right.
(Also, Facebook has helped me not hit on married women more times than I can count. Thanks for that, Mark Zuckerberg.)
But when did we all become so fucking important that everyone needs to know what we’re thinking and doing 24/7? Hey, maybe your life is just that awesome – but if Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama can live without hourly status updates, I think I can too.
The other day, J. Delancy – who also runs a manly blog – asked me about my experiences using Facebookand Twitter for my blog. The truth is, I’m finding it hard to keep up with some other bloggers who seem to tweet something every 15 minutes.
It’s not that I have nothing to say – I just want the things I say to matter. We all have real lives to live and I refuse to subject you guys to every single thing that pops into my mind.
And I’m alright with that.
If you’re with your friends – enjoy their company. If you’re at a concert – watch and listen. If you’re stuck in traffic – be stuck in traffic and enjoy your having some time to yourself for once.
When you’re busy living real life, there’s no need for constant entertainment and validation. It’s so great out in the real world – why don’t you get off your damn phone and join the rest of us here?