It’s resting on the bedside table. The bedroom door is closed. Much of the family is sitting outside on the wraparound deck that overlooks Tennessee mountains.
It’s probably vibrating now, the blue light blinking. Maybe it’s work. Maybe it’s just an Express newsletter. Maybe someone endorsed me on LinkedIn. Maybe it’s the email I’ve been waiting for the last seven years - you know, the one that tells me I’m the greatest writer ever and here’s a book deal, just for being you.
No, it’s probably not one of those things.
It’s resting on the bedside table. The bedroom door is closed. And we’re sitting in rocking chairs. I’m holding a beer and lazily playing against Sarah in Pentago. I love this game because it forces me to think three steps ahead. Later we’ll play the Settlers of Catan. That one forces you to isolate yourself as some resourceful emperor or baseball general manager, watch over the board like an all-knowing wizard, and write inside your brain all the scenarios that could allow you to earn those three wheat cards you need to build another city. We’ll scream and laugh and throw shade. That’ll be a riot.
Now it’s definitely ringing again. I can tell; even in another room, I can tell. I think it’s a Twitter notification. We’re vacationing during the Major League Baseball trade deadline, and just as my team is rebuilding, trading every valuable player, including the guy who just threw the no-hitter during our drive south. Oh how I long to check the trade talk, to read analysis about incoming prospects, to wax poetic about fading memories.
Maybe I should remove the Twitter app.
On the WNYC show “Note to Self,” host Manoush Zomorodi recently updated her “Bored and Brilliant” project, which aims to help you rethink how you use your smartphone. For the summer, she launched a three-day “boot camp.” On day one you put the phone away and stop checking it. On day two you take no photos with the phone. And on day three you remove that one app you incessantly check or use, whether it’s social media or a game.
Most millennials should rethink their smartphone usage. A 2014 Nielsen survey showed more than 85 percent of millennials own a smartphone; and in a 2014 Zogby Analytics survey, 90 percent of millennials with smartphones said their phones never leave them.
This isn’t news; I’ve written previously about this obsessiveness. But when you’re telling yourself that you shouldn’t worry about the phone while on vacation from the phone - and by extension the world - you need to revisit your own habits, because it's ruining our minds.
Millennials need to start putting away their phones - and tablets and laptops - especially when spending time with loved ones.
Do me a favor: Tomorrow, when you’re home without a job to do, put the phone in another room. Leave it there for a half hour. The next day, leave it alone for an hour. Then two hours. Then three. Or do “Bored and Brilliant.”
I’ll do both. Please let me know how you feel after a few days.