Smartphone Shuffle:

This isn’t the Superbowl Shuffle or the Harlem Shake, but I bet it makes people feel like you are doing the Macarena.  I’m talking about the head down, arm extended from your waist at a 90 degree angle, sliver of plastic wrapped in metal and glass firmly clutched in your palm, slow gait that seems to afflict nearly every person on campus.

I am just as guilty of it as you are.  Trust me.  The question that I have for you is simply: What has us so engaged?  I will admit that I love a funny video or a sarcastic So Me Card.  I even appreciate it when someone likes my status about how I checked in at my favorite place in town.  I like texting people so I can get a quick update on how they are doing or sharing on Facebook a picture that I just took.  One of the most expensive luxury items that I own is my phone and I take it everywhere!  But, I write to ask what has us so engaged that we have given up keeping the phone in our pocket and enjoying the sights and sounds of a bustling campus.

When I first started at Loyola, someone asked me, “How do you like the Uptown area?”  I replied immediately, “Honestly, it is one of the most beautiful places in this country.”  I meant it and I don’t take beauty for granted.  I had just moved from the Rocky Mountains being at my doorstep every day in Denver.  Of course, I’m not suggesting that we should use our phones based on some sort of comparative beauty measure.  I am more drawing out the fact that we should be present in the beauty that surrounds us, in the ugliness that surrounds us, and the everyday.  It is good practice to take in what is physically around and understand our internal experience that comes from that environment.

This idea of being present is a hallmark of psychological health.  I talk to clients about it every day.  Some might argue that their “better living through technology” is their present.  And I empathize with those people.  I love my technology and feel that it is an integrated feature to my existence – one that I welcome!  But, I would disagree that it is the present.  The beauty (and danger) of technology is its permanence.  Yes, something may have been posted just now, but you’ll be able to read it later too.  On the other hand, the people around you will not be there and that smile you give to someone as you leave the door open for them a second longer than socially expected will not be either.  You might even get an in real life (IRL) “like” back.

-Logan Williamson, LPC

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