Yesterday I went to watch my football team, Liverpool F.C., play against one of their Premier League rivals.
It wasn’t the best match, despite Liverpool winning 2–0. Another victory extended our lead at the top of the English Premier League and despite being underwhelmed by the performance, I went home a happy man.
As the match was not a frenetic and gripping affair, my eyes started to wander from the pitch at times. Often I would find myself staring into the distance, observing the touchline, or looking at those around me.
It was when my eyes darted to someone close to my left that provided more curiosity and interest than events on the pitch.
After 20 minutes or so, I realised that a person in the crowd near me was wearing headphones. This is unusual, especially when the atmosphere at Liverpool is renowned for being among the best in the country.
Intrigued, I observed some more, and discovered that not only was the man wearing headphones, he was also on his phone.
Now, this is not unusual in itself. A lot of us spend hours on our phones. However, this time it was shocking to me.
Here was somebody who had come to watch their football team play. I know people who are Liverpool fans who can count the number of matches they have been to on one hand.
Tickets are hard to come by and they would jump at the chance to go to more games. Here was a guy, at the stadium, watching the team that were crowned champions of Europe the previous season, and he seemed more interested in his phone than the match he had to come to watch.
It summed up our modern era. I could see that he had taken videos o the crowd on his phone and was uploading them to Instagram. He did this again a few times throughout the match. The irony not lost on me that I was now watching this guy as intently as I was watching the match!
It seemed he was more interested in showing everyone he had been to the match rather than enjoying and taking in the match himself.
Phones are useful tools, but tools are all they are. If we’re careful they can become an unhealthy distraction. In this man’s case, he was more interested in checking notifications and posting on Instagram, than taking in what was happening right in front of him.
Life is about being present, being sucked into your phone stops you from doing that. Sometimes, we need to put our phones away and admire what we have in front of us.
Phone For you?
I’m not going to lie, smartphones are amazing. There’s no getting away from it. As a piece of technological kit, they are incredible.
They are more than phones. We can surf the internet, take high-quality photos and videos and manage our finances all on one device.
If you had this was possible fifteen years ago, people would have thought you were crazy! Even ten years ago, the quality of the first two was questionable, while being able to log in to your bank on your phone was a pipe dream.
I’m not even sure if apps were a thing ten years ago!
Smartphones have become so central to our lives that it’s almost unthinkable to live without one. They are a Swiss army knife, able to perform multiple tasks and increase the efficiency of our lives.
However, this comes with a downside. They may make things easier, but if we let them, they can suck our time and attention.
With so many apps and things you can do on your phone, it’s easy to become over-reliant on it. It’s easy to become addicted to them, this is when they move from a tool to a drain.
Phones have moved away from their central purpose. They are no longer phones, but personal banks, cameras and a way of communicating our every thought with the wider world.
The guy at the football match was eager to communicate to the world that he was at the match. Yet, by doing this he forgot to do the one thing that you go to a sporting event for, to enjoy it.
If you’re too busy documenting your every waking moment on Instagram or Twitter, you’re forgetting to live. When you live your life this way, you’re not living. You’re existing in a quasi Truman Show world, which is detrimental and unnecessary.
Life is about being present in the moment, taking in the world that you see around you. There is much more to life than portraying a false narrative of it to the wider world.
I’m not telling you to ditch your smartphone and go back to a more basic phone. You might be reading this and think that’s a good idea, if that’s you, then go for it. However, most of us will likely stick with the phone we already have and that’s fine.
The point is that you realise that your life should not revolve around your phone. At best, it is a device to connect you to the wider world, keep in contact with loved ones and allows to perform important tasks on the go.
At its worst, it’s a distraction and a device that suck your time and away from more meaningful pursuits. Life is out there in the world, it is not on social media platforms.
Our lives are too short to waste them staring into a screen and trying to capture every moment to make us look better to people online who we barely know.
So much wonder, joy and beautiful sights exist in the wider world. We are surrounded by amazing things every we go, but we are often too invested in our smartphones to appreciate that.
The guy at the football match had the privilege of watching some of the best footballers in the world live, right in front of him. Millions of people around the world would pay thousands to be able to witness these players play once.
Yet, he was more preoccupied with checking his messages and uploading photos to Instagram, than living in the present and enjoying the spectacle in front of him.
In the end, it comes down to this. Life is to be lived, not documented. So get busy living and take a step back from your phone every once in a while.