Last night I went to the grocery store. The experience I had is not the first time I've had it. Far from it. It was just more obvious than ever last night, because it was the majority of the experience, not just a part of it.
As I entered the store, I was delayed at the door. Why? Because a guy was checking his phone, and he stopped right in front of me to do it, like I wasn't even there. To him, I wasn't. He was very locked onto the phone, so anything around him didn't exist.
As I made my way down the first aisle, which is always the vegetable and fruits aisle in grocery stores here, it was difficult to move. So many people were walking around like zombies on The Walking Dead, gazing into the gadget that it was bumper cars, literally. That continued in every aisle of the store I went down.
My old strategy of shopping for groceries used to be to go down every aisle, one by one, so I get what I need. I value my time, and I don't want to have to go back for one item I missed because I didn't do that. But, my new strategy is to look at each aisle when I approach it, and if I see too many phone gazers, I skip that aisle and come back to it later. I don't make lists. I never have. I rely on my very good memory to achieve the goal of getting all I need.
Last night, I had to avoid many aisles, and I didn't go back to one of them, by chance. As it turns out, I missed one item I wanted to get.
For the phone addicted gazers, they have lost any value of time. They value some external validation interaction thing that has been created by the Steve Jobs and Zuck's of the world.
Its now at the point of epidemic. On the radio this week, I heard the Morning Drive DJ say that there are studies out there that say over the course of your lifetime you will spend 75k on just your smart phone, when you consider the fees, the cost of the phone, the constant upgrade and replacement and the increasing data charges. Also, another time last week, he mentioned a new study that over the course of your lifetime, when added together, the average person will spend 1/3 of their entire life on their cell phone either talking or surfing, interacting, whatever you call it now. Think about that, a third of your entire life on that one activity. And that is the average. Averaged in with people like me who spend almost zero time on a phone.
Back when I had a day job, smart phones were just coming into existence. They gave me one for work, because they wanted to be able to contact me at all times. It had all the features even then. They never left me alone, and like many, I started to use it in ways that bothered me. I was always checking the stock price of the stocks I had at the time, as I was trading a lot of stocks back then. I surfed way too much, and played all the games many play on those gadgets. When I quit that job, they took the phone back. I never replaced it.
There came a time when I was forced to get a cell phone again. I didn't want one, but we don't have a home phone anymore, so it was beneficial to at least have something. We went to the store to get something. I was insistent that I only wanted a basic cell phone. No internet connection, no apps, no bells, no whistles, no camera, no social media connection. They just kept trying to steer me to the smart phone and all its great features. They even told me it cost me the same to get the dumb phone as it did the smart phone.
And that is where they are dead wrong. In every way, the smart phone costs you much more than simply having a basic cell phone to make phone calls when you absolutely need to do that. It costs you a lot more money, it costs you valuable time in your life, it costs you your ability to think clearly, and most importantly, it removes you from the moment to be current in the life you lead. It costs many more things, but I listed enough already.
To me, its an epidemic, and its like being on dope. Once they hook you, you are almost helpless to get off it. It becomes part of your core and your body tells you that you need it and have to have it. Its that bad voice in your head that some addicts talk about hearing when they cant stop, even when they have some will to stop.
Its the worst addiction of our society, mostly because there are so many addicts. As a percentage, there are very few drug addicts, alcohol addicts, gambling addicts or sex or porn addicts. But, in terms of smart phone, social media addicts, I'd say its the majority rather than the minority. And the next generation wont even be able to distinguish between the current world we now deal with, and the one where you seek some level of peace and contentment from not always being connected or interacting.
I know a blog like this makes me sound like Mr. Hand from Fast Times At Ridgemount High. I'm aware of that. And like Mr. Hand, that is because I was around and aware of what it was like to not be consumed by a gadget to the point you were lost in the fog. Smart phones are the new dope.