Jack White was in town last week and treated (or cramped, depending on your perspective) his fans with a phone-free performance using locking pouches made by the tech startup Yondr. With this technology people drop their phones in a soft locking pouch, keep it with them, and get the pouch unlocked only in zones outside the performance area. The show is not shared with and by thousands of hovering screens. This has been growing in the entertainment arenas since 2015, Chris Rock used it on his big tour last year, and now courtrooms and schools are picking it up in some areas. People can’t be expected to control their personal technology (we all know that), so this is a new and fairly low-tech solution.
Of Americans 18 and over, 95% own a cell phone. Multiple studies in 2017 found that we use those phones around 5 hours a day, obviously for things besides phone calls. This is a weird time that won’t last (although I don’t know the next iteration of instant communication and connection). You know those decade-theme parties, dress like the 60’s or 80’s? When we have twenty-tens parties in years to come everyone will walk around recalling these years with text-neck postures staring at little flat rectangles.
My phone is a distraction, and a powerful tool. I tried on the newest Apple watch recently and asked “what does it do?’ to which the sales guy replied “Everything your phone does except take photos – but you can release the phone shutter remotely from the watch.” I realize that when I reach for my phone for one purpose I’m pulled into all the other things it delivers and I don’t want all of those things closer to me (like strapped to my wrist). Distractions don’t serve my daily or life goals, focus does. I’m going to spend the next 30 days reducing this distraction – stopping mid-reach, leaving the phone at home, using a watch to check the time, and keeping the thing off the table. If you’re like me, this is a conversation to join, a habit to break, or an inquiry to ponder.