“You need to build an ability to just be yourself and not be doing something.”

September 20, 2013

Louis CK on smartphones

This is a quote from the recently viral video of my favorite ginger funnymen, Conan and the amazing (and ultra-crass) Louis CK.

Now, I love Louis. LOVE him. Not just because he’s got the ability to make me cry with laughter, but because he is so honest, so real, and so authentic. In that sense, he is a major role model to me (I’ll pass on many of his parenting techniques though!). He just says it as it is, he calls us out on what makes our own humanity so sad and twisted. He makes our problems seem so pathetic, and so incredibly our own stupid fault. I love him for it.

So, this video started showing up all over my Facebook feed, and once again, the man just nailed it. I was like, “Yes, THIS!”

Adri and I have many, many talks about our smartphone usage and how it’s helpful and how it’s harmful. It’s mostly harmful. You’ve probably read the studies that Facebook is creating a new breed of depression… many of us, who have become adults in the age of the internet, have got a major case of compare-itis. Other people’s lives on Facebook always look pretty perfect, don’t they?

We’ve also got, as Louis so poignantly pointed out, an inability to just be alone. To be still. To get bored. To not be connecting with others. We are no longer comfortable with those awkward, lonely moments, least of all, we’re incapable of coping with sudden feelings of sadness.

This is a quote I pulled from Gawker, a transcript from the interview:

You need to build an ability to just be yourself and not be doing something. That’s what the phones are taking away, is the ability to just sit there. That’s being a person. Because underneath everything in your life there is that thing, that empty—forever empty. That knowledge that it’s all for nothing and that you’re alone. It’s down there.

And sometimes when things clear away, you’re not watching anything, you’re in your car, and you start going, ‘oh no, here it comes. That I’m alone.’ It’s starts to visit on you. Just this sadness. Life is tremendously sad, just by being in it…

That’s why we text and drive. I look around, pretty much 100 percent of the people driving are texting. And they’re killing, everybody’s murdering each other with their cars. But people are willing to risk taking a life and ruining their own because they don’t want to be alone for a second because it’s so hard.

Right? Nailed. It.

So, I am not bringing this up to be smug because I’m impervious to these feelings, and to tell you all to meditate 20 minutes a day or anything. I’m bringing this up because Adri and I came up with a mini-solution that we’ve been doing for 2 months and IT REALLY HELPS.

We call is digital sabbath. I know, I’m super proud of this badass name I came up for it. 🙂 Every Friday sundown to Saturday sundown, we do not use ANYTHING with a screen. We use our phones ONLY as phones, and only when absolutely necessary, including no text messaging. We don’t watch movies, TV or YouTube. Need to know something? Don’t ask Google (remember those days?) We don’t check or respond to email. We don’t work. We go for walks, eat food, read books, sit and stare at the wall, take baths and hang out as a family. Simple enough, yes, but in the beginning the urge to just pick up the phone and check Twitter or something was SO difficult. I too had that urge to just “say hi to 50 people”. But I stopped myself. Many, many times I’ve had to check in with myself and ask myself why I have the reflex to just get my thumb swiping all over my phone, as though I am searching for something. Why do I need to look for updates and check out what everyone else is up to?

Well, I don’t need to. None of us do. Try it out. Just 24 hours a week. It’s an incredibly refreshing break.

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