Putting in our Airpods and looking at our iphones seems to be as common a habit now as checking the refrigerator for no reason at all. We all do that…right?

It’s as if we’ve turned into a black and white society of auto-pilot phone zombies only living to eat, sleep and poop! Okay maybe it hasn’t reached that point yet, but you get the picture. But seriously, look around, there are a lot of people staring at their phones these days. Including me, by the time you read this sentence, I’ll probably be staring at my phone!

At my university, students congregate in close quarters, due to the fact that most of the campus is connected through hallways and buildings…(thank god). Utah Valley University a small university campus, which happens to have the more students than any other university in Utah. So as you can imagine, it can get a wee-bit crowded here.

When I’m not in class, I spend most my time studying on the green couches in the language arts building where students turn the hallway into a super massive interstate of students. (And by the way, these students drive themselves in the hall just as awfully as they drive their cars on I-15. I digress). Truthfully it’s not a great place to study, given how often students are passing in between classes. I study there because I like people-watching. I’m a people-watcher. If you take time to look and observe the people passing by, you’ll notice things you didn’t notice before.

Like me, noticing the fact that people will literally walk past the only other person in the hall, and look down at their phone just to avoid saying hello. Even worse, they do they same thing in the elevator! I know this because I was the one who did it! I rode like six stories up this elevator today with another student who stared at his phone on the opposite corner. And you know what…I did the exact same thing! And I felt duly ashamed afterwards. Ah, I just reminded myself again!

Banksy
Banksy

That isn’t my normal character. I’m often the one to initiate a conversation with a stranger.  I think It’s really important to spend more of our energy connecting with others. I don’t think I would be writing on this topic if I didn’t. It’s more than important. It’s literally on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. No joke, Google it! After physiological and safety needs, a healthy belonging and sense of connection in needed for healthy human living. So now you anti-socials have no valid excuse!

We homo sapiens are actually very social creatures. We were born to be inquisitive people, curious of the business of our neighbor. This is the way humans existed for a long time. For thousands of years actually, human beings made connections with one another. I can just imagine an ancient Sumerian, looking out the hole in his clay hut, at his neighbors arguing about who’s turn it is to wash the pots! This was the essence of human connection. Even if that connection is in contention. It’s still better than the modern day trend of being glued to one form of technology or another.

We need a dose of reality! Reality is right in front of your eyes. Yet, we go from one class to the next with hundreds of people walking all around you, each with their own story. Each with something in common with you. Imagine the leverage in connections you would have if you could talk to just one stranger every day. So leave your phone in your pocket next time your are going from here to there. Talk to a stranger!

Here’s a dose of reality! Turn on your senses, tune in to the present moment, but dear god, please don’t drop out.

Cheers, and till’ next time friends…

Erik Hight