At first, I was livid. The email came in, and I might have overlooked it. But because the event, which we had purchased tickets for last minute, was imminent, I opened it.
“Mobile phones will not be allowed at this event,” said the email in bold letters across the top of the email, the word ‘not’ in caps and highlighted in red.
This wasn’t merely a suggestion. This was a decree.
“Anyone using a mobile phone in the seating area will be immediately escorted out of the venue without refund.”
I have a kid, I have dogs, I have a house that might unexpectedly explode. How could anyone expect me to spend the evening without access to my phone?
We approached the venue and waited for the doors to open. While we waited, several people circulated through the lines with baskets of small grey and green foam pouches that closed magnetically to prevent audience members from accessing their phones. These would be the phone-silencer facilitators.
So, into the pouch, my phone went. My husband left his phone in the car; we figured one phone was all we needed. Should disaster strike, we would surely feel a constant vibration that could indicate an emergency: Child, pet, home or other.
While we were in line, and my phone was in its little case of invisibility, the strangest thing happened. My husband and I started to talk.
It is not that we do not usually talk, but we do spend a lot of the time with our faces in our phones. Social media, texts, random Googling, all these things seem so urgent when they are just at our fingertips.
Without our phones, we had nothing else to do but chat.
A healthy conversation was not the only anomalous side effect of our sudden cellular restriction. During the performance, stand-up comedy to be exact, the comedian made some interesting claims.
It was not the claims that caught my attention; it was his taunt that we could not fact-check him without our phones.
Instead of checking the truth to his claims, we just enjoyed the joke and laughed even harder when he immediately called out the audience for doubting his statement.
I was almost sad, when, as we exited the building, I touched my phone case of invisibility to a magnet and, once again, had the world’s most effective distraction at my fingertips.
Thankfully, there were some hilarious photos of my three-year-old with his friends waiting in my text messages to soften the blow.
It was eye-opening.
I know I spend too much time on my phone, but I had no idea how absent I am during the simplest of things because of the distraction.
Because of this standup comedian’s audacious and aggravating cell phone ban, we have vowed to turn our phones off completely one night a week and be present, to reconnect by disconnecting.