I’m not sure at what time I got under the spell of smart-phones but it totally got to me. Ever since my first iPhone I wasn’t in the real world anymore. In the train I checked the news – twice –, checked Facebook – more than necessary –, listened to music, tweeted unimportant tweets, bored the world with how slow the train was going or how much delay I had, posted pictures of sunrises & sunsets and worst of all: I checked in everywhere possible. All those new interesting apps were only feeding my smart-phone addiction and most of the time I didn’t even know what I was doing on my phone. Checking for the sake of checking?
Drinking something with my friends wasn’t just with my friends anymore, our phones were on the table and once in a while we checked Facebook, of course we checked in on Foursquare to show the world how awesome our lives are and made numerous photos. I was totally hooked and couldn’t stop myself anymore. My mind was always with my phone. The first thing I did in the morning – well after waking up – was checking Facebook and other Social Media platforms, I took a shower and afterwards again checked Facebook, like anything impressive would happen on Facebook. While eating breakfast I was scrolling to the thousands of tweets that had entered my timeline overnight. Most of it was just rubbish but I kept on going through the list.
It wasn’t until Uganda that I realised that my head was too far up this smart-phone drama. In Uganda I bought an old second hand Nokia, you know the ones with a number and a black and white screen. A phone that you could only call and send messages with – all that a phone is supposed to do. I didn’t have any music on it but I didn’t need to in Uganda, the birds, monkeys and even the people are the music. My iPhone stayed in my backpack for a very long time. I think I even forgot about it. Until I came in contact with other foreigners who even had internet on their phones in Uganda. That wasn’t possible in the village where I was living – or maybe it was but there would be no connectivity anyway. I remembered I also had my iPhone and I took it out of my backpack and started playing with it again. Luckily my little Ugandan brothers loved the iPhone or maybe they just like killing pigs with ‘Angry Birds’. They didn’t know the value of the iPhone as they threw it on the ground when they were done with the game. I didn’t mind, I understood now that this is only material and that real life is out there and an iPhone less wouldn’t really make the world a worse place.
Then I continued my journey and ended up in Argentina. The first days I didn’t use a phone at all, I didn’t have a number and didn’t really care about it. My mother didn’t like it but hey we have internet everywhere so I could just send an email that everything was okay and the rest of the day I would be WiFi FREE! When I was drinking a coffee in a café I felt a bit uncomfortable. The people around me were mostly on their phones doing whatever they were doing. Some elderly were reading the newspaper and only a few were actually talking with each other and probably business. Without the iPhone I took up my most favourite hobby again – observing people. When I walked the grey streets of Buenos Aires (it was winter) I saw more and more people busy with their phones instead of life around them. A friend that I just met was actually more on his phone than talking with me and multiple times I asked him to put his phone aside “but I’m talking with a friend” his reply was. But what about me? Didn’t we meet up to talk or did we meet up to talk with other people on the phone?
It became clear to me that I, once again, live in a place where life on the phone is more important than life around. It is such a pity to see people being so busy with their phones. We live only once and I bet no-one wants to check in later in life and share their last breath on Facebook. Or maybe some people do. No we don’t miss anything when we don’t check Facebook every second, people will not list us as missing persons and sure as hell we don’t have to tell what we are doing every second on Facebook – no one cares. Of course Facebook is a nice medium where you can share your stories and happenings, especially when living abroad it is great to keep people up to date this way. However, life is out there and many people forget to live the life they show on Facebook.
So I guess that’s it, leave your iPhone home and enjoy the little things of life again, like we once did! Smell the air, listen to the singing birds, hear the wind blow, feel the sun warming your skin and see the world through your eyes not your smart-phone. Cause however smart it is it will never understand the true value of life.