Put Down Your Phone. It’s Time to Look Up.

by

Put Down Your Phone. It’s Time to Look Up.

by

We spend far too much time looking at the screens, rather than looking into people’s eyes or listening. I think we can learn more about ourselves, society and the world at hand if we look up more as we communicate and look down less. 

I have been to a few year-end events and commencements this month and they got me thinking about my own life and experiences. 

When I graduated from college, a very wise 100-year-old man delivered a speech called “A Compass for Life.” “honesty, integrity and focused work will take you anywhere,” he said during his speech. I have never forgotten those words. 

After hearing them, I spoke to a friend’s father who I knew and respected. I asked him for his “plastics” line (in reference to Dustin Hoffman’s line in the film “The Graduate”). He said to me: “Go out into the world and find something that you connect with. Understand that the money or compensation you receive is only one measure, and in fact, it is a tool. Do not make it your master. If you make it your master, then no matter how much you make or acquire, you will never be satisfied.”

This prompted me to think about what I would offer to a group of young people about to embark on the next stage of their life. Here’s what I decided: I would say, “LOOK UP.”  Have conversations with people. Smile at a stranger as they walk by. Spend less time isolated on devices or computers and more time in conversation with other human beings. Spending time together in nature—without distraction—is also good for the mind and soul. 

The noise and distraction of platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and Facebook can often have a temporary positive or negative shelf life. The impact and meaning of a human interaction or conversation expands our capacity in countless conscious and unconscious ways. 

It surprises most people, but the iPhone is 10 years old this month and most of the platforms mentioned above are younger. A 10-year-old needs guidance and boundaries. These revolutionary devices came into our world without guidance for usage. It is my opinion that they are meant to be used as tools. The intention of the tool was for connectivity, ease of information and sharing, not to take the place of human interaction. In theory, they were created to add modern elements of connectivity, but the truth, for many, is that it has been the exact opposite. 

In less than a decade, these devices have become masters and not the tools they were initially created to be. in doing so the constant barrage of newsfeeds, texts, emails, photographs of other people’s experiences are distractions and comparisons not always beneficial to our human experience. there are also negative benefits to our bodies that have been proven by science.  

Optometrists have witnessed a dramatic decline in eyesight over the last decade. Chiropractors have noticed an increase in challenges with neck ailments, as well as an increase in arm and shoulder tension. These increased physical challenges can be directly linked to our use of handheld devices and looking down. Psychologists have reported a marked increase in social anxiety as well. 

We spend far too much time looking at the screens, rather than looking into people’s eyes or listening. I think we can learn more about ourselves, society and the world at hand if we look up more as we communicate and look down less. 

Three ways to accomplish this would be:

1. Put your phone on airplane mode for at least two hours of the day thus giving you the opportunity to pause. this allows for us to be more active than reactive in our life. 

2. Take time to exercise to get your body in motion or take time for meditation. Start with a few minutes and build. when you finish make your first interaction with a human being and don’t look at a device for at least 11 minutes. In this way, you control the circumstance and train your mind to use the benefits of what you’ve just done throughout the rest of your day.  

3. The next time you have and memorable experience with another human being don’t text, DM or em\ail. put pen to paper and write them a note expressing how much that time together meant. people respond to the unique gestures that are simple and thoughtful.  

I encourage you to look up at the world. Experience people and your surroundings. In doing so, we all will figure out how to have mastery of our lives and then best ways incorporate the tools of technology. 

Kevin Kendrick is a photographer, actor, and writer. For the past decade, he worked with families throughout the United States and Europe to document their lives with still photography. He is based in Los Angeles, California.

READ MORE STORIES THAT MOVE HUMANITY FORWARD

READ MORE STORIES THAT MOVE HUMANITY FORWARD

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