Commuting. Walking. Waiting. We are never alone. We have angry birds, plants vs. zombies, and Facebook to keep us company. Whether we are sitting completely alone in a room, or waiting in a room full of dozens of others, our phones are our pacifiers and our safety net. If you have 20 minutes until the next bus comes, you don't fret because you know you have something to occupy your time. If you are caught in a space with people you don't know, you don't have to reach outside of your comfort zone and awkwardly talk to someone else, you just pull out your phone.
I know you have heard it all before. Pundits tell you to unplug from technology. Authors write about how it is hurting our ability to get work done. We feel guilty for being dependent on our techno gadgets. It's easy to rationalize our relationship with technology (and specifically our smartphones) because you see so many others around you with the same approach.
I am no different. I never leave home without my iPhone in my pocket and my iPad in my purse. However I read an article a while back that planted an idea in my head that has been eating at me. Does our constant connectedness kill our creativity?
As a potential technology lover like me, your mind may do the same thing that mine does - instantly defends the stance that constant technological connectedness ENHANCES our creativity. We share ideas, we build communities, and we are exposed to new perspectives! What could be bad about that?
But consider this; what did you used to do in all of those moments commuting, walking, and waiting before you had a smartphone? Daydreaming, list making and absorbing information about your surroundings. You were taking in the world in a different way. Perhaps it was just to see an exciting design for an upcoming assignment, a shoe style on the person next to you that reminded you to call your brother, or read a magazine that had an article that spurs your next blog post. The article I read proposed that without these moments of daydreaming, the unstructured time in our lives not invaded by video games, Facebook, and TV shows, we don't allow ourselves to make the random connections that become a fully formed thought, which in turn can become an idea that leads to true creativity.
I am not proposing that we cut all technology out of our lives. I am certainly not suggesting we throw out our smartphones (my iPhone isn't going anywhere!). I am simply suggesting that instead of pulling out a smartphone the next time you are on the subway or waiting in line, you consider using those precious moments in your life to just take in the world around you and see what creative moments it might inspire.
Note: I do want to acknowledge that I am writing this article aimed at the students (or staff) who are able to afford a smartphone and other fancy pieces of technology. If you are not one of those people, consider my article as a good way to rationalize enjoying this freedom from the smartphone world, and how much more thoughtful you have the potential to be without the distraction.