The other morning, while walking to the beach for sunrise, I spotted the person in the above photo. Most people on the beach at dawn are walking for exercise or searching, with heads down, for seashells. But this guy, seated in a beach chair with coffee at his side, had the look of a sunrise aficionado. A true daybreak pro. An incarnate of the Big Lebowski’s “The Dude.”
Impressed, I veered towards him with the intent of complimenting his style. But as I neared I noticed instead of sponging the awe of the sunrise he was staring at his phone. Instead of “The Dude” he was the “The Rube.” The want to compliment was replaced by an urge to place a sea anemone on his neck.
And this wasn’t a millennial. This was a guy who looked to be in his 60s.
Mother of Pearl, I thought, what are we doing to ourselves? Have we become so hypnotized by our phones that we’re now blind to life’s kick-ass moments?
I could be wrong but I’m guessing when he rose before dawn staring at his phone was not his original intent. Yet, like most, he’s indentured to the tyranny of his screens.
Our smartphones are amazing devices. But what’s not amazing is that instead of controlling them our smartphones are now controlling us. Sixty-eight percent of adults now wake in the middle of the night and check their phones. We can’t turn off.
And what’s ironic is that we understand the power of rebooting our computers but not in rebooting ourselves. When we reboot our electronic devices there’s a noticeable difference. We power them back on and they’re faster and quicker, noticeably more responsive.
Imagine the effects a reboot would have on ourselves. A mere hour away from our devices would allow us to be in the moment, aware of our surroundings, proactive rather than reactive.
Twenty minutes later I passed “The Rube” again. He was still shackled to his screen. Connected never looked more disconnected.