TL;DR Wanna become immediately smarter? Stop whatever you are doing right now, grab your cellphone, get up, walk into another room (the further away the better), drop your device and come back to your task at hand; voilà.
So I followed my gut while navigating Netflix a few weeks back and clicked on a new magic show called Magic For Humans, headlined by a magician named Justin Willman. Now I’m going to graze through my watching experience but that shouldn’t deter you from checking it out for yourself because it’s quite endearing. Right off the bat, I thoroughly enjoyed the humanity behind the tricks and its responsible trickster. It’s a mélange of wonder, awareness and introspection as he approaches every episode with a central thematic that is relatable to all.
Now to the topic at hand: during a shorter “side” trick that Willman performs on passersby in a park, through which he commandeers the unsuspecting volunteer’s cell phone, ties it up to a handful of helium balloons, lets it float up into the atmosphere, pauses a few ticks as they freak out before blurting out that he “backed it up to the cloud” and turning his back to them to reveal their ACTUAL phone under his shirt taped to his skin. Pretty amaze-balls right? No camera trickery or nothing, I honestly cannot wrap my head around most of his tricks.
ON TO MY POINT! During one of the executions of the above-described performance, the informative magician inquires of his victim if they had heard that having their phone on their person or even in the same room automatically makes them stupider. I immediately took note of that comment, on the one hand because, even though I hadn’t heard that before, it kinda made a whole lotta sense to me, but on the other hand and more importantly, I seriously doubted that such a thought-provoking statement would be shared on such a big-scale production without it being backed by facts.
It doesn’t require much effort to Google and read for yourself that “just having your phone within reach makes you dumber”. And as I stated earlier, it kinda-sorta makes sense does it not? I felt compelled to type this down particularly because recently, I also somewhat came to terms with how distracting our shiny devices can become the further you give in to the digital motions, this weird barter mutation that we concocted out of thin air by trading unsubstantiated ones and zeroes. It’s been stated, researched and proven before but these notifications from Facebook, Instagram and the like really are comparable to figurative crack. Accordingly, as I further pushed the pedal in regard to my output, it didn’t take long for me to develop a habit to check regularly (at times excessively so) for any type of update. Subsequently, it didn’t take me long to realize the adversity of the process as a whole.
It’s important to take a step back and reflect on the purpose of our trade and communication. I have felt for many years that there should be a higher standard held for what should be commonly acceptable and respectable to post and share. I believe that we should always ask ourselves whether or not whatever form of media we’re about to offer up for consumption is either informative, helpful or otherwise uplifting and inspiring in one way or another. If it isn’t, then dump it and move on to the next one. The floodgates have been open and unsupervised for far too long and as a result, we’ve ended up with too many cooks, not enough chefs. Something to think about next time that you’re compelled to hit “Post”…
Sidenote: I also find it interesting that such science-based evidence conflicts with statements made by someone like Elon Musk on Joe Rogan’s podcast just recently, in which he advocates for a blatant intellectual advantage as a result of appropriation of cellphone technology and access to wireless, digital information. Admittedly, it’s hard to come to terms with such conflicting notions but that’s a story for another day!