COLUMN: Being unplugged from the digital world

Having to put the smartphone away for a few hours isn’t as easy as you’d think

A few weeks ago, my wife and I attended a comedy show at which no cellphones were allowed.

At the door, we turned off our phones and they were locked away in a fabric pouch and returned to us, now conveniently just-too-big to fit back in our pockets.

It’s become common practice at live performances, as comedians, musicians and speakers alike aim to curtail video recording of their shows. Which is all well and good.

As someone with friends who are performers, I respect not wanting your work posted online without your consent. That said, I’ll admit, it was a pretty difficult two hours.

Oh, the show itself was great, and as it turned out, we ended up with front-row seats despite our tickets saying ‘Row 4.’

It was the perfect vantage point from which to not take a photo.

Or check into the venue on Facebook. Or text a friend.

And it wasn’t for lack of trying, either. On a handful of occasions – especially pre-show while we waited for the house lights to dim – I reached to my pocket, wanting to relay some funny observation to a friend, or even just check the score of the hockey game.

Wasted efforts, of course, but old habits die hard.

Without our phones, all that was left to do was – and this sounds crazy, I know – enjoy the moment.

A great concept, sure, but it took some getting used to. We’d been seated less than five minutes before my wife turned to me and said what we’d both been thinking since we got there.

“What are we supposed to do now, talk to each other?”

It’s the old ‘tree falling in the forest’ philosophical question, updated for 2019.

If you go somewhere and don’t tweet about it, did it ever really happen?

Can you actually be too online?

In the end, we successfully managed to while away the minutes until the show began, at which point not having access to our phones was of little concern, as our attention was rightfully diverted to what we had actually paid money to see.

And we had a wonderful night.

But the whole situation did make me realize how addicted we all are to our smartphones.

It’s a very real, well-documented issue. Teachers who are flustered by students who use phones during class; distracted drivers who would rather text than pay attention to the road; even pedestrians can put themselves at risk, walking with their heads down, minds occupied by Instagram stories rather than the world around them.

I’m as bad as the next person, as I try to stay plugged into group-text chains and how my fantasy sports teams are doing.

And so it was that, in the lobby after the show, my phone was released from its shackles and I was able to re-connect to the world.

Oh, the things I had missed – one call from an unidentified, overseas number and two emails from LinkedIn.

It was good to be back.

Nick Greenizan is a reporter at the Peace Arch News.

Visit us at

Like us on Facebook

Just Posted

Teen charged with possession of a loaded firearm after incident at Whalley park

Surrey RCMP say 17-year-old boy allegedly found in possession of loaded handgun

Kids Boost Immunity honours Surrey school for vaccine donations

Elementary students donate more than 3,000 vaccinations to Unicef

Pug life: Waggish dog names listed in White Rock

Freedom-of-information request lists most ‘pupular’ dog names registered with the city

Fraser Health reminds parents to get their kids fully vaccinated against measles

Health authority will send letters home to parents with catch-up program information

What’s age got to do with it? B.C. couple with 45-year gap talks happy marriage

An Armstrong couple that has 45-year age gap began turning heads after being featured on show Extreme Love.

B.C. pedophile wins appeal after violating court order

Kelly Glen Isbister’s sentence was cut by the BC Court of Appeal

VIDEO: Spiderman-clad Lamborghini makes pit stop in Abbotsford ahead of Avengers premiere

Highstreet Shopping Centre displaying unique car during Friday’s opening of Marvel movie

VIDEO: Fish farming company launches $30-million vessel to treat salmon for sea lice in B.C. waters

Freshwater treatment an improvement but fish farms should be removed from sea, says conservationist

Singh says childhood abuse steeled him for scrutiny and stress of politics

He recounts the assaults for the first time in his book Love & Courage

Despite five extra weeks’ parental leave in Canada, dads still face stigma: survey

One reason people said dads don’t need leave is because they can just bond with their kids at weekend

Vintage bottles, magic cards, a 1969 Playboy: Quirky items found in historic B.C. buildings

Crews set aside some of the funkier pieces emerging from the construction rubble

PHOTOS: Inside the ‘shoe house’ in Northern B.C.

A rare look inside the famous Kitseguecla Lake Road shoe house, with a tour led by owner Toby Walsh

Child, 11, accidentally shot in the chest at Alberta religious colony

Child taken from Hutterite colony to nearby hospital

Most Read

l -->