My daughter has a small, silky pink blankie. It’s the first thing she grabs when she wakes up in the morning, and the last thing she holds on to when she goes to bed at night. She can’t sleep without it. Sometimes it seems as though she can’t breathe without it. Most kids have some sort of security blanket, stuffed animal or doll. It is something that makes them feel comfortable and secure. Something that reminds them of home or of their parents or of some unexplainable thing that gives them comfort. There is nothing wrong with children needing these things. The problem is that many never grow out of it. Although most adults don’t carry around a threadbare blankie or filthy teddy bear, they grow up to be even more attached to another type of security blanket… an Iphone or Blackberry.
Most people I know check their phones first thing in the AM and last thing at night. They keep it on the table throughout dinner, in their hand during a walk and attached to their ear most other times of the day. A smart phone gives you the security of knowing that you are linked to the rest of the world. When you are alone, you have your phone to keep you company. When you are bored, you have entertainment. When you are away from the office, you can stay informed. With an Iphone you are always connected, and there is security in that. However, by staying connected through your phone, you might be missing the opportunity to create real connections.
Ok, so here’s my soapbox. You don’t still suck your thumb, do you? You don’t use a pacifier, sleep with your teddy bear or poo poo in diapers (except for a couple of friends of mine who thought this was a funny idea and who shall remain nameless… for now.) Regardless, you are not a kid anymore so grow up and get rid of the security blanket already! Put the phone down. Just for a few minutes. See what happens when you take in the world around you instead of burying your nose in your Blackberry the instant you have a free moment. It’s ok to sit at a coffee shop by yourself and just relax and drink your coffee. It’s ok to go to on a walk and simply enjoy the sights and sounds of nature (or of smoggy traffic if you live here in LA.) You might have an interesting conversation with a stranger or even make a new friend. You might discover how much you enjoy a particular hiking trail, or how much you really love blueberry muffins. And you can definitely enjoy the park with your children a lot more if you are engaged with them rather than half-ass playing while checking out who “likes” Wal-Mart on Facebook. And Ps. the world won’t end if you are not on email/Facebook/Twitter for the 20 minutes it takes to have a conversation over dinner.
I am not going to pretend that I don’t use my Iphone as a security blanket myself. I do it. I admit it. If I am sitting alone at a coffee shop, or waiting for a friend at a restaurant, or even (gasp!) dining alone, I spend the entire time absorbed in my Iphone. Hell, I often pretend to be absorbed in my phone, so people don’t think I am a friendless loser because I am there alone. I once faked an entire conversation with my bestie about what dress she should wear to the gala (yes, I really said the word “gala”) because my phone was totally dead. But regardless of all evidence to the contrary, I am a grown-up and it is time for me, too, to say, “Screw the security blanket” and sit alone in the coffee shop without the aid of a dead Iphone to keep me pretend company. I’ll let you know how that goes, and how long I last before grabbing a newspaper to bury my nose in instead. Baby steps, people.
It’s fine to talk on the phone, to check your email every now and then or to read up on the latest news (or blog, reading my blog is ALWAYS acceptable.) But you don’t need it to fill your time or your life. I am sure that your life is full enough already. So focus more on actual connections, and less on the wireless ones. It’s time to rid our lives of these security blankets; these things that we just can’t live without. Except, of course, for wine… I really CAN’T live without that.