I ate poison this weekend. Let me explain.
On Saturday, I was feeling sleep-deprived and under the weather. In a state of fuck it, I ordered fast food online. I won’t name the establishment, but it might rhyme with Baco Tell.
Forgetting it was 7pm on a Saturday night, I went to pick it up and sat waiting for my order for an hour. I didn’t bring my phone in with me because I assumed I would be in and out in 2 minutes.
After about 20, the urge to check my phone began to possess me like a demon. I noticed this compulsion, and sat still to test my patience and mindfulness.
Once it passed, there was only one thing I could focus on: my surroundings.
I can’t remember the last time I experienced such fascinating people-watching.
Two DoorDashers sat on their phones with frustrated demeanors (I wasn’t the only one with a long ticket-time). Every time the cashier came closer to the front, the DoorDashers, in unison, would exaggerate their posture and facial expressions to make sure he knew how unhappy they were.
Two dudes stood in front of me, both well dressed. They were engaged in playful small talk and banter. I figured they were either a new couple or had just become friends.
There was also a short, hispanic man with headphones on. He danced as he placed his order on the touchscreen. I wondered what he was listening to.
Looking around at all these characters, I realized something huge:
We are very bad at sitting and doing nothing.
I wanted so badly to check my phone. Why? To squash my boredom.
When’s the last time you sat and did nothing for 20–no…5 minutes?
We are addicted to stimulation.
Even when we are engaged in conversation with someone at dinner, the second they get up for the bathroom…slip…out comes the phone.
We’re at a table full of close friends. Everyone has their phone lying on the table.
We’re waiting in line for something. Out comes the phone.
How many times have you seen someone watching TV with a phone or tablet in hand? How many layers of stimulation do we need??
To be clear, I’m not judging anyone. I think our amazing technology has pulled us into some sort of Matrix.
I also don’t think our obsession with stimulation makes us bad people. But I do think it has warped our attention spans and that it damages our ability to simply enjoy what is happening in the present moment.
The next time you go into a store or restaurant– Hell, the next time you go out, don’t bring your phone. See what happens.
If the thought of that gives you anxiety, that’s a huge sign that you need to try this.
When you have nothing to stimulate you, look around.
Strike up a conversation with a stranger.
Do some people-watching.
Compliment someone’s pants.
You don’t need to check something right now. Trust me.