In 2001, the first smartphone was introduced. Ten years later, 50% of US adults own one — and that number is growing. By 2015, analysts predict that nearly a billion smartphones will be sold each year.
The smartphone, as its name suggests, is smart. It allows you to do practically anything and everything: send text messages, write emails, play games, browse the web, trade stocks, go on Facebook. One look at Apple’s recent Siri commercials with Samuel L. Jackson and Zoe Deschanel makes clear that the iPhone will even practically cook you dinner.
The problem is, the smarter our phones get, the stupider (for lack of a more elegant word) we get. We are less engaged. Less active. More reliant. More complacent. More disconnected from the rest of humanity. In 2008, only 4% of people were accessing the Internet from their mobile devices on a daily basis. By 2011, that number grew to 26%. That means we’re spending more and more time staring at a four-inch screen. (As though staring at a laptop monitor wasn’t bad enough.)
Apart from causing us to fall into holes in the street, get into car accidents, and generally engage in super antisocial behavior, the smartphone has taken a toll on our souls. When’s the last time you read a book (not an e-book)? Walked down the street and listened to the wind? Drove with your favorite song on full blast? Called an old friend? (No, email and texts don’t count.) That’s what I thought. I’m guilty of neglecting these beautiful parts of my life too.
So this Memorial Day, I urge you to outsmart your smartphone. Remind it that in the end, it’s just a phone that’s designed to make and take calls. When you ignore all of its other functionality, I think you’ll find that there’s a lot in your life — i.e. your humanity — that you’ve been neglecting.
Because in the end, even if you wish it could, your smartphone can’t live your life for you. Don’t let it pass you by.