power of off

“We are spending far too much of our time doing things that don’t really matter to us.” -Nancy Colier

I was at the beach the other day with my husband — have I mentioned how much I love living in southern Florida? — and as soon as we got our chairs and umbrella set up and started to take in the beautiful view, a woman sitting nearby started a long conversation on her cell phone, just as if she were sitting in her living room. Only if she had been, she wouldn’t have talked so loudly.

What’s going on here? Not only was her call rude to the people around her who were forced to listen, but she was shutting herself off from the incredible scenery surrounding us.

And yes, I fantasize about starting a website called “I Heard It On the Grapevine” where anybody can write in and report what they heard that day and where. Maybe ego-inflated employers would stop firing employees on their phones in a crowded airport van–I was there–or stop giving sensitive details about their businesses or transactions where anybody listening can make note of them. (Won’t say what I heard or where, but I will say it was a major charity.)

A recent column by Jane Brody, “Put down your phone to feel the ‘power of off'”, backs me up. She mentions the experiences we’ve all witnessed in restaurants, playgrounds, shopping, or just walking down the street, when people become so engrossed in their devices that they forget where they are and who they’re with. They become smart phone zombies.

Nancy Collier, in her new book, “The Power of Off: The Mindful Way to Stay Sane in a Virtual World,” makes the excellent point that, “We are spending far too much of our time doing things that don’t really matter to us.”

I do use a lot of digital technology myself, sometimes because I’m just feeling too lazy to do anything else. As a result I overuse it, but in the future maybe I’ll try harder to follow Nancy Collier’s excellent suggestions:

  1. Be more aware of how much I overuse technology to the detriment of myself and those around me. Time to pay attention.
  2. Make small changes, such as not using my device while eating or enjoying my friends, (which I really don’t do) and engage in more activities each day with my devices turned off. (A suggestion that hits home.)
  3. Spend more time doing what is most important to me. (My two reading challenges will nudge me in that direction.)

Sound good? Have you been thinking about this, too? Are you trying to ignore texts and emails when you really don’t need to watch out for them? How are you doing?

6 Comments

  1. Merlene on January 22, 2017 at 3:22 am

    I for one loathe being glued to a telephone; I am also old. I do not want to be interrupted when I am reading or doing anything else. I own a cell phone for my emergencies only. Phones in restaurants are y pet peeve.

  2. Joni on January 22, 2017 at 5:52 am

    So true!!
    We were going to have a electronic free January- we failed miserably!!

  3. Martha O'Quinn on January 22, 2017 at 8:36 am

    Barring an emergency I consider it rude to have to listen to a one-sided conversation while shopping aisle after aisle in a store; standing in line at a checkout; even while putting gas into a car. And yes, I have beloved family members who are guilty of the above!

  4. Nancy C Lepri on January 22, 2017 at 1:26 pm

    I too have been known to spend way too much time on my computer…or so my husband says! And, I find myself now addicted to so many of the games on Facebook that before I know it, hours have passed and I’ve accomplished nothing that I’ve set out to do! So, I’ve decided to cut back drastically.

    As for my cell phone, we only use it when we’re going out, so basically it’s for emergencies only, whenever I’m out and want to take certain pictures. I hate going to restaurants and seeing whole families not communicating with each other, but on their phones. We’ve made a rule for our daughter and her husband, whenever they come to our house or we go out to eat, all electronics must be turned off. Enough is enough!

    • Emilie Richards on January 23, 2017 at 1:37 pm

      Yes, this sounds like me. I don’t overuse my phone. But my iPad gets a real workout.

  5. Deb Berris on January 22, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    I’m with you, Emilie. Even from Florida! I only use my cell for phoning and texting and most know I’m not a ‘phone person.’ Now, I do use my tablet when I’m home on the sofa or at a desk working. I also love my games, but I like to walk around with my phone deep in my purse and hope not to hear it at all.

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