Our lives changed the very day smartphones were placed in our hands. People who marketed the gadget to us did a very wonderful job. They showed us how boring and dumb our lives have become and shown us a way to make our boring lives glitter again; They named it ‘Smart’ and told us it’s the only way to make a dumb life smarter. We hopped to it because they told us it will ‘connect’ us to people no matter how far and long they live from us.
Since the day advertisers shown us that smaller shinning screen, truly our lives have changed. We are more ‘connected’ than we are apart. Things around us have become smarter each day with every update they pushed to us. The only thing stagnating in this era of smartness are people; the users and patrons of the smarter life.
Today, we live for the grace and honor of how many ‘Likes’ our photos receive on Facebook and Instagram or how many retweets we get on twitter. We are so much attached to these meaningless validations from our online next-door neighbours so much so that we’ve lost touch with the real world.
I went to a Pizza joint one evening and the place was full of couples. Many of the couples seated were waiting for their orders to arrive. None of them were talking to each other; they all had their eyes fixed on their phones and occasionally smiling as they pressed on their phones.
No word at all, except to raise their head occasionally in anticipation of the arrival of their orders. Those who tried to pick up conversations seemed to be talking to themselves than anyone because whoever they were trying to talk to had their concentrations on their devices. Sad, isn’t it?
This is a device that was touted to get us more connected than ever. The way I see it, it is rather this device that is getting us uninterested with one another. It is creating a psychological barrier between people, between friends and between relatives who live next to each other.
We are more interested in fake friends who will only give a ‘like’ on our picture than the friend next to us who is in the position to show us the true meaning of a like. What have we become?
These devices were meant for our usage. To help us get things done faster and efficiently. We have allowed it to get into our way of thinking. We’ve allowed it to manipulate us instead of us controlling them.
We are not using our senses anymore because we have surrendered to this new kind of trendy slavery. We hardly look to the person next to us because we are busy chatting with friends who live in our phones. We prefer a poke on Facebook to a real touch of the person next to us.
I left my phone in the house one morning when leaving for work. That day, I realized I didn’t know my way to work. Everything looked different; the roads, the turns, colors of buildings, names of shops, even the queue formed in front of the waakye seller next to the street intrigued me.
I was able to see those things because for the first time I was ready not to just look but to see. Glance by glance, I stared at every little thing by the roadside which I would have ignored if I had my phone in my hands. That was when I realized that I haven’t been paying attention. A lot of beauty had been lost to me because I’ve been engrossed in something that have little beauty.
When the car got stuck in a traffic, this time I had the chance to watch. I took time to read some of the funny inscriptions in front of the shops, had time to interact with other passengers in little conversation and enjoy the wind that splashed on my face as the car moved. Life is beautiful when we surrender our time to the happenings around us. What matters is what’s in front of you. What actually matters is the person breathing next to you.
Our smart devices have become very dictatorial; telling us what to do at every moment in time. One minute, we are talking on it. The next minute, we are responding to a message someone sent. The next moment, we are on it pouring out our empty problems on google to solve for us, ebei!
Everything on this phone or tablet demands our attention. The sad truth is; we are not able to say no. We answer to the needs and call of this phone of ours at every moment in time without fail. So we end up being enslaved by an object pretending to be smarter than us.
We prefer to look at the world through the lens of our phone’s camera. Too many things escape our attention because we like our phones to tune its auto focus on them instead of using our eyes.
Who gets to hear the first hello when we wake up; Twitter! Who gets to hear our good morning greetings; WhatsApp friends! Who gets to read our morning inspirational messages; Friends on Facebook! And when we want to be assured that we look beautiful, who do we ask; Instagram! In the night when we get attacked by armed robbers, who do we scream to for help; Our next door neighbor! You see how fucked up we’ve become?
How did we survive without smartphones some years before now? How did we make it through life? How did we survive the boredom during a long trip by bus? We survived because we paid attention. We survived the long trip because all they way through, the beauty of nature followed us.
We had fun counting trees and wondering why the moon followed us all the way. There’s grace in nature. This grace tries to keep us company in each passing moment but we are so involved with our devices that we fail to appreciate the light.
Pick a day. Any day at all and take a break from your little slave master. Put the world on your phone on hold for just a day so you could activate the world on the outside. Say hello to the guy you just walked by and he will bless you with a smile; real smile not an emoji smiley from a phone.
It doesn’t hurt not to reply a message instantly. After all, man has been able to survive the periods when replies to letters took months to reach.
Spend real time with family, look into their eyes and appreciate what they’ve been through during the day. Share your stories with the one next to you; they only can empathize with you and offer an opened arms to run into. Life is meant to be enjoyed this way; the smart way.