Friday, November 13, 2015

14 Things You Can Do Instead of Staring At Your Phone

Everywhere you go anymore, you'll find people staring down at their rectangles. They'll be Facebooking or Pinteresting or Twittering or ESPNing or Skyping or Angry Birding or Candy Crushing or somethinging.

[I'm officially old now. Why? Because I'm about to use the old man's phrase. What is the old man's phrase, you ask? "Back in my day."]

Back in my day, we didn't have all-knowing, all-powerful telephones small enough that we could carry them around with us wherever we went. Our phones were mounted to the wall, and you could only take them as far away from the wall as that pig-tailed cord would let you. (Sometimes as far as fifteen feet!)

Yes, times have changed. It's a much different world than it used to be. Here's a list of just some of the things people used to do more of back in the day before the smart phones took over:

1. Look people in the eye. People actually exist in the real world, not just as profile pictures on Facebook.

2. Talk to people. Sometimes if you talk to people, they will talk back. Occasionally, an interesting conversation will actually take place.

3. Play board games. We used to gather around the table and play board games as a family. It was fun, and we learned a lot about each other, like which cousin was super-competitive and which uncle was a sore loser.

Playing Clue with the family at Grandma's house back in the day.
(I'm the cute kid in the middle about to drop a "Colonel Mustard in the Ballroom with the Revolver" on everybody.)

Back in the day, if you wanted to play a game by yourself you had the choice of solitaire or...solitaire. (And even then you would very likely have someone looking over your shoulder "helping" you.)

"Red 8 on the black 9." "Oh. Thanks."

4. Spell out words. Or, as the kids today would say, "spll wrds." I have an aunt who thinks that because using "u" and "ur" in place of "you" and "your" is acceptable in texts and on Twitter, that it is acceptable everywhere. She doesn't realize it's rather jarring to see "text language" in the middle of real sentences. (It'd be like someone throwing in a couple of German words in the middle of an English sentence.)

5. Watch shows on actual televisions. Yes, it's great that we can take our shows with us wherever we go, but there's something kind of nice about watching a show on a screen bigger than 5 inches.

6. Write letters. Do you remember the thrill of getting an envelope in the mail with your name and address hand-written on it? Do you remember getting actual words and "conversations" sent to you from someone you knew and liked? If so, well, congratulations: you're old, too.

7. Play with toys. These days, if you take away their phones kids will likely say, "I'm bored." Back in the day, we played with toys. We had Hot Wheels and Tonka trucks and Lincoln Logs and Tinker Toys and pop guns and Barbies and other dolls. (Or "action figures," if you were manly like me.)

8. Play outside. Back in the day, instead of staring at a tiny screen we would play tag or hide and seek or red rover or hopscotch or jump rope or Cowboys and Indians. (I didn't say that we were politically correct. Just that we used to go outside and do something.)

9. Read a book. Whole worlds were opened up to us by reading books. And, books were interactive: if you turned a page you would get a whole new slew of words to read!

10. Use our imaginations. Instead of staring blankly at a screen, we could be cowboys or astronauts or fire fighters or soldiers or super heroes or the King of Slubovia. (And believe me when I say not just anybody could be the King of Slubovia.)

11. Go to the park. Swings. Slides. Teeter-totters. Monkey bars. Forts. Fun of all kinds.

Hours (or at least minutes) of family fun.
12. Play sports. Did you know that people used to go outside and actually play baseball? I know, it sounds unbelievable, but it's true!

13. Discover nature. Hiking can be fun. So can climbing on rocks, or climbing mountains. Finding waterfalls can be fun. It's much easier to do these things if you are outside.

You can't do this if you are staring at your smart phone.
14. Talk on the phone. Do you remember when phones were actually used for talking to someone? Did you know your smart phones can be used to call and talk to another person and have instantaneous interaction? You don't even have to wait for them to type out the next words they want to say. It's true.

It's amazing what we can discover if we just put down our rectangles and look around a bit.

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