Do We Really Need to Lock Up Our Phones to Live in the Moment?

And how does being device-free change our behavior?

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, writer Joanna Stern asks a question that’s become reflective of our time: If no one is around to capture and instantaneously tweet, text or record an event, did it even happen?

Image courtesy of Unsplash

The question comes after Stern went to a screen-free party thanks to Yondr, a company that makes a “locking pouch” for your phone that has to be unlocked at a special station. Described as a “low-tech solution to keep us from using our high-tech devices,” the service has many applications, such as keeping the dinner table phone-free, restricting screen time during the school day or ensuring that events are kept private (both comedian Chris Rock and illusionist David Blaine are fans of the service). Stern writes that she felt freer and less self conscious about dancing at the Yondr party knowing her “terrible moves wouldn’t end up in a friend’s Snapchat or Instagram story.”

That many people need to lock their phones away (and not everyone obliged, as Stern notes) to truly disconnect underscores a uniquely 21st century epidemic: our instinct to capture everything via smartphone takes us out of the present moment. Think, for example, about “Gary from Chicago,” one of the tourists Jimmy Kimmel brought into the Oscars. Stern writes how Gary “witnessed the entire crazy experience through his phone’s tiny screen,” — and truly, wouldn’t many be inclined to do the same?

While hopefully we don’t need to lock our phones away to be able to engage more fully with our surroundings, the very existence of Yondr is an important reminder: we all need to unplug and live in the present moment, sans screen.

For some more unplugging encouragement, read more here.