I recently watched a woman walk into a coffee shop, order a beverage, pay for it, and walk out without ever looking up from her phone. She didn’t lift her gaze once, didn’t talk to anyone, didn’t look up to see what was going on around her.
Seeing this made me wonder how many times I’ve done the same thing. How often do I ignore the people around me because of this tiny computer in my hands? How many interesting little moments do I miss while I’m stuck on autopilot, lost in the digital blur?
We can berate technology all we want, but let’s be honest. It’s not the phone; it’s us.
People used to do this thing called, “standing in line.” It required – horror of all horrors – waiting. Now, instead of waiting in line, people cram a bunch of busyness into this slice of time. Reading, typing, scrolling, posting, liking.
It’s been scientifically proven that downtime is a necessary nutrient for mental health. Scientific American writes that mental breaks “increase productivity, replenish attention, solidify memories and encourage creativity.”
Engaging in phone activity does not count as a mental break.
Instead of filling these pockets of downtime with mind clutter, let’s give our minds a break. Look up, look around, make eye contact, smile. You never know who might smile back.