Phones and their social media apps algorithmically draws our time to exploit us. They do not just sell our privacy. They also shape our desires. By their use, we show a love for the digital, the use of the finger to swipe and tap. An ephemeral practice that leads nowhere and leaves nothing behind.
Today, I took my daughter to swimming lessons. With five other parents, I observed the class. I should say: I observed. At one point during the class, I looked around and saw every parent—all five—mesmerized by their phones. No parent watched their child. All watched their phones.
I am not uniquely virtuous. Last week, I was mesmerized by my phone. I missed my daughter when she dunked her head under water. She told me, don’t look at your phone! I mostly obeyed. I looked at my phone, but not for long. The compulsion to look took over, and I fell into a mania of technology. But I held on to my sanity. I stopped, and here is what I saw.
I saw a young boy tell my daughter, You are doing great! I watched my daughter swim in the deep end with a life jacket. I walked near her and told her she did great. She looked at me with glee, a smile broken across her face, saying something like, That is my daddy!
Whatever moment we had, we had because I was not memorized by the screen but by her.