October 02, 2015

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When I wake up, the first thing I do is check my phone. This means threats, tax problems, and family emergencies get stuck in my head before I”€™ve had my first cup of coffee. Confronting bad news the second you wake up is a form of self-abuse.

From now on, the phone gets charged in the living room. When you wake up you must first greet the family, have your coffee, and eat a bun or whatever it is you breakfast eaters eat. When it’s time to evacuate your bowels, you may turn on your phone, check the weather, and glance at the news. This provides about a minute of phone time and that will hold you until work. 

I was watching a movie from the “€™80s the other day and was reminded of a time when we used to just sit there. It looked strange to see the main actor planted on a chair, smoking a cigarette and staring into space. He was probably having deep thoughts about his marriage and whether or not he should move to Dallas for work. This is when big decisions are made, and you can be sure about them because you”€™ve thought them through. How the hell can you think when you”€™re constantly bombarded with memes?

I don”€™t even get how kids can be depressed anymore. How do they know? Every moment they could be taking stock of their feelings is spent scrolling through other people’s lives. Depression sucks, but not experiencing your own life is worse.

As David Foster Wallace said, “€œEmbrace the boredom.”€ Whenever my kids tell me they”€™re bored I tell them that’s a good sign because boredom is what happens right before you think of something fun to do. You think of something fun to do because you had to because you were bored.

I can”€™t believe I have to say this, but don”€™t stare at a screen when you”€™re walking down the street. Here in New York things have gotten so bad, politicians are suggesting fines for people who cross the road while using their phone, and there are homemade signs on the street that say, “€œYour Facebook status update can wait.”€ Highways have had to install text stops to try to curb the approx. 3,000 people who die texting every year.

If you have to check a map or you”€™re awaiting the verdict from the jury, pull off to the side of the sidewalk and take care of it. There’s a real world going on around you and you”€™re annoying it.

After a hard day of making your brain work, you often want to stare at the TV like it’s a fireplace. You don”€™t even want to watch anything well written or it will be too challenging. However, if you have enough mental energy to have your phone out while the TV is on, you”€™re not spent enough. You could be reading. If Ann Coulter and Mark Steyn are too heavy, pick up any piece-of-shit newspaper and read about the tractor parade. If you can use your phone while watching TV, you shouldn”€™t be doing either.

Scott Campbell and Lake Bell are new parents who have a small tin bucket by their front door. On Friday evenings they put their phones in the bucket and the phones stay there all weekend. From now on, we all use the weekend bucket.

If your kid does something amazing and you need to get a picture of it, you may run to the bucket, take the picture, and promptly return the phone. Your weekend phone is an old-timey camera and nothing more.

When I was at the park with my daughter trying to take pictures of phone zombies, I got an alert that said I had some new emails. I checked them and clicked on the link one of the last ones provided. That led to Twitter and while there I checked my retweets. I couldn”€™t resist peering at Instagram and Facebook, too. During this time, my daughter got bored of waiting for me and wandered off. I cut that invaluable moment short, and for what? I dread the idea of her picturing an old man looking at his phone when she remembers our time together. This dread is nature’s way of telling us Einstein was right. Let’s stop ogling billions of strangers doing nothing and get our lives back. We demand #PhoneFreedom. Oh wait, that’s a meme. This is going to be harder than I thought.


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