Stop, look up and listen: A case against your phone

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A few months ago a cleverly made video called “Look Up” went viral on the Internet. People watched and shared, but never really followed through with the message. It became too easy to watch and move on to the next uber popular thing on YouTube. A quote from the video by Gary Turk says, “I looked around and realized that this media we call social is anything but when we open our computers and it’s our doors we shut.”

A few days during summer school I looked around as I walked to and from class, and I was surprised to see how many people really do walk around with their faces buried in their cell phone. Whether it’s texting, Facebooking, Twittering or getting to that next level of Candy Crush, so many of us become oblivious to anything that extends beyond the small screen in our hands.

I think it’s pretty miraculous that more collisions don’t occur. Maybe our peripherals have evolved, or maybe we have simply become professionals at texting while walking.

After realizing that I let “Look Up” escape my mind completely, I thought there must be a way to bring Turk’s goal to fruition. He shares a lot of what’s wrong and what we should do with our phones, but not much in between. It’s surprising how much of a crutch a phone can be and how hard it is to detach.

The first step, as cliché as it may be, is recognizing that you are one of the people walking around with your nose in your phone all the time. Not only does this create an air of unapproachability, it also says that whatever is happening on your phone is more important than what’s going on around you.

Next, making the conscious effort to keep your phone out of sight while walking from point A to point B is essential. Finish that email on the bus or, better yet, when you get home. It can get overwhelming when you need to respond to three group messages, finalize weekend plans with your best friend and answer important emails.

But walking isn’t the only time to catch up. Your mind is already focused on walking and getting where you need to go, so adding extra tasks will only create poor quality responses anyway.

Think of walking as small windows of time throughout the day when you can clear your mind, take some deep breaths and enjoy the view.

Yes, you’ve seen the beautiful MS walls and the breathtaking “black box” (convocation center) about a thousand times, but you never know who you will miss running into or meeting when you are so focused on what to say about that cute puppy meme on Facebook.

Keep your phone on silent. Keep it in your backpack or pocket. Answer phone calls for an emergency (or your mother). Most importantly, look up and talk to the real people surrounding you every day.