Be Here, Now

words by JOY HODGSON
graphics by WILLIS HOFF & ALYSSA KELLE

I am growing more particular with my circle of friends as I age, and as a result I expect a greater level of presence when sharing space with my chosen companions. Time with others feels so much more intentioned, planned, and purposeful these days – so it seems to be owed a certain level of focus.

Smartphones appear to be the largest enemy of this life development. Though they provide many benefits and serve a utilitarian purpose – such as aiding my aging, failing memory for what other movies that guy has been in or how to get to that hole-in-the-wall vegetarian restaurant we talked about last week – they also exist to distract focus, divide attention and divert conversation.

As our lives become busier and less communal, plans with our loved ones are increasingly more difficult to co-ordinate and bring to fruition. After all of the calendar consulting, deadline checking, and endless texting to produce a date, time, and location to meet, should we not respect and appreciate that time?

 

Clearly, we’ll have to put our phones away for that to be possible...

 

Nothing feels more insulting than finally sitting down to coffee with someone just to watch the shadows on their face as the illumination from a tiny screen scrolls over the little bubbles of another conversation. What can be more frustrating than finishing a particularly hilarious story only to be met with dead silence from your distracted companion?  

Smartphones may be an easy way to keep in touch with friends at any time of the day, from any part of the world, but what is the point in keeping friends we cannot seem to enjoy being in the presence of? 

They’ll still be there for us when we’re finished being better friends.

Presence is defined as a state of being – as in being engaged, being interested and being focused. So why not try being more present in the real-life moments we work so hard to arrange, and put those devices away.

Perhaps the time has come to acknowledge how we’ve allowed our cell phones to continuously call our attention, and re-learn how to cherish, relish and honour people – real people – in our midst.