Step Away From the Phone


via Flickr

Did you happen to catch this article, “Step Away From the Phone!”, in the Sunday Styles section of the New York Times yesterday? Imagine my delight when I read that my recent second attempt to disconnect and spend less time on my phone/in front of technology is actually part of a larger movement. Turns out, I’m not the only person feeling overconnected and saddened by being tethered to a smartphone 24/7 (don’t even get me started on the idiots who waited in line for the new iPhone over the weekend. I have no words, just eyerolls). The people interviewed in the article, including Marc Jacobs himself, have all set a hard line when it comes to limiting technology at home. Throw your phone in an empty fishbowl, leave your iPads outside the bedroom, first one to check their email puts the kids to bed. Genius, right?

“Whenever Michael Carl, the fashion market director at Vanity Fair, goes out to dinner with friends, he plays something called the “phone stack” game: Everyone places their phones in the middle of the table; whoever looks at their device before the check arrives picks up the tab.” I suggested playing this with a few girlfriends earlier this year; one, (who shall remain nameless ;), insisted she couldn’t afford the entire bill, not realizing she wouldn’t have to pay more than her share if she just left her phone unchecked. While I love the idea of the phone stack game, how sad is it that we had to invent a game with incentives just to concentrate on your friends at the table? What have we devolved into?

My favorite line in the whole article was this: “Public cellphone use has reached an uncivilized fever pitch, so now it’s chicer behavior to exempt yourself from that. You’re not answerable 24/7, and that’s a powerful and luxurious statement.”

Powerful and luxurious. I love it. I have to think that with all the swirling excitement over the latest cell phone release date or those silly commercials with iPhone and Android users brawling over bragging rights, that eventually the smartphone craze will burn itself out and maybe, just maybe, we’ll see a world without cell phones again.

23 thoughts on “Step Away From the Phone

  1. Just yesterday Steven was giving me a hard time for reading something on my iPad during commercial breaks of Breaking Bad in our bedroom last night. I really like the idea of keep the iPad out of the bedroom as a general rule. I also really like the cell phone game out at dinner, however that one I don’t think I can commit to bc I’m guilty of having to photograph a good meal before I dig in. Also, I doubt my girl friends would go for it. Le sigh.

    1. I intentionally leave my phone at home most weekend days or weeknights when we go out. It’s too easy to get sucked into it. I used to feel naked without it but I have to remind myself I’m not going on a safari in a remote part of the world. The farthest I go on the weekends is maybe 20 blocks away. In a busy metropolitan city. Haha. I really want to try the phone stack game one day soon. I need a good group! xo

  2. Stacking the phones in the middle of the table sounds like a great idea but you are right that it’s sad that such a game has to be invented.

  3. After a night where my sleep was interrupted by text messages TWICE, I am more than tempted to throw the damn thing away altogether.

    1. Oh, that kills me!! I’m always really diligent about turning my phone on silent (and then double checking to make sure my alarm will still go off otherwise I have anxiety all night about sleeping late) but the times that my phone has beeped in the middle of the night…jarring. Awful! xo

  4. Cellphones also cause premature aging. We squint to read emails/text thereby causing crow’s feet. We look down causing turkey neck and we put the bacteria laden phone to our face causing acne. What a marvelous invention.

    1. Well jesus, now I’m abandoning it entirely. Even with my insane, triple-lotion skincare routine, I don’t trust it. You didn’t even mention the inevitable cancer-causing radio waves! xo

  5. i really think my only crime is using the camera on my phone. i don’t know as a parent i’ve always been really self-aware (mainly because i just other people, oops) what it looks like to be on your phone when you should be available to those around you.

    when m+l were really small maybe 1 1/2 we went to the park and this little girl fell and hurt herself pretty good and her mom or grandma just stayed on her phone. so i went over to her to help and when i walked over to her with the little girl to say “um excuse the fuck out of us but your child is injured” she put her finger up to us, turned and walked away. so of course i followed her and then physically pushed her child into her to comfort her. it was so weird.

    then of course there’s the time where parents just sit there tapping on their phones totally zoned out while their kids talk to them, or hit some other kid, or fall down, or are doing something adorable; that whole thing just makes me really sad. so i don’t use my phone for anything but the camera (instagram) and occasional text and maybe to glance at my email if we have been gone all day.

    but i’m with ya sister. i love that dinner idea and i bring books to bed with me. xoxo

    1. I just laughed so hard at that story, not because I think it’s funny that little girl’s mother should have protective services called on her for being negligent and terrible, but because that’s the first time I’ve ever heard you curse and it was so perfect. I can totally see you saying that with a blasé “um” in front of it. And good for you for coming to that little girl’s rescue, she must have been so sad and scared in that moment, it must have been comforting to her to have you at least pay attention! Oh, I love you so!

      It drives me up the wall when I see parents on their phones out with their kids. On the bus, on the subway, pushing a stroller. How about you talk to your did and point out fun things. Ask them questions, have a conversation! (not YOU specifically, the general ‘you’). Novel ideas! It does look bad, you’re right. The ease of having a camera right there is pretty great, especially with little kids, but some people take it just way too far. I’ve made a pact now to only use Instagram once I’m home and on the sofa. Take a picture, put the phone away, enjoy the rest of the moment. I can add filters later.


      PS. Books in bed = heaven!

      1. haha. oh i have a constant stream of cuss words running through my mind frequently. someday when we meet in person you will find i am quite well versed in cursing ;) the little girl had actually fallen really hard on a balance beam right between her legs. it’s was terrible, and what could i do? she totally need her mom – who i saw, saw it happen!

        …and i missed the word “judge” in my parenthesis between “other” and “people.” xoxo

  6. totally with you, I went out today for – shock, horror- a whole hour without my phone (deliberately) and it was so liberating. My husband came chasing me down the road with it, waving it in his hand in a panic!!

    1. Haha, I love that. But surely he lived in a time before cell phones existed at all! Even I remember life without them. You left your house and went places and even if something horrible happened, you were able to sort it out. I don’t like how reliant we’ve become, as you can tell! xo

  7. Oh man, this is something I really struggle with! I almost wish I could downgrade to my old crappy flip phone, if that was a viable option

    1. You’d be surprised. As long as it’s on the same carrier you probably can! That’s how I got away with using an older Nokia bar phone! xo

  8. I’ve disabled internet on my phone a few years ago. people always wonder how I live. how I find my way around without checking google maps? how I decide what bars or restaurants to go to? and I say, the same way I did before there was such a thing as smart phones (all my friends are old enough to remember these days). I don’t get this craziness about having to be connected all the time…

    off to read this article now. thanks for sharing xx

    1. Oh my gosh, what a strange concept: you live without internet on your phone! ;) I’m being facetious. We managed for many years without internet in our pockets, I’m sure we could be just fine. Need to know where something is? Check a map before you leave your house. And be honest, if people were just using them for maps everyone would carry around a GPS. Everyone is on Facebook or something. xo

  9. I stayed away from smart phones for a long time until someone bought me one as a birthday present last year. I have always found it odd that people interact virtually with peope (facebook, whats app etc) while sitting face-to-face across from a friend. I am not remotely inclined to do so myself – its a rule I stick to religiously.

    Great minds think alike! x

    1. That’s a good rule to have! When did virtual interactions trump real, in-person interactions? It makes my skin crawl to see a group of friends out (and I’m certainly guilty of this, too!) at dinner and they’re all staring at their phones! Hello! Look up and enjoy your company!! xo

  10. All I could think when I looked at the photo you used was that if we could SEE the magnetic rays and cell signal swirling around that stack, we’d probably be scared to go near them. Imagine the magnetic field they’re creating, all together. Brain melt!

    This morning Ban and I were waxing nostalgic about cassette tapes, and how we used to sit by the radio with a sweaty finger on the record button, waiting for THAT SONG to be played, and how sad it is that kids will never know the experience of making a mixtape, or remembering your favourite songs with added blips and reversed bits from playing the tape so many times it got all wonky. It’s kind of the same with phones- will kids of the future even know what physically DIALING a rotary phone is like? So much is being lost…it’s really sad when you sit and think about it. Will they even know the frustration (or sublime satisfaction) of folding a huge paper map? Is Siri going to be like a surrogate mother?

    Have you heard Cake’s song No Phone? I always hear this in my head when people are fiddling with their phones.

    1. You know Pig Pen, the Peanuts character? With the clouds of dirt swirling around him all the time? That’s sort of what I imagine our phones to look like, only invisible. I’m a bit young to have had cassettes exclusively, but making mixtapes off the radio? Did that. Waiting all day in front of it to hear a specific song? Yep. Rushing home to catch a music video on MTV? Been there, done that. Calling your best friend on your landline phone and making plans to play outside?? My favorite. I laughed at your Siri comment but the scary thing is, I don’t think it’s too far off these days! People are so dependent on their phones for everything!

      I remember when you and Ban first got your iPhones, as presents, if I remember correctly (and yes, that’s how long I’ve been following you!). I miss the good old days pre-internet, honestly. I’m pretty sure I’d have finished my book by now if I didn’t have the stupid internet to waste time on.

      And I’ll never tire of paper maps. Nothing else compares as far as I’m concerned. The crinkle! xo

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