While millennials are, without question, the connected generation, there are obvious issues that have stemmed from our constantly connected state. The Pew Research Center states that Millennials (those who came of age in the new millennium -- currently age 20-36) are the "always on generation". They're absolutely right. We text and Snapchat and Kik our friends. We Instagram what we eat and post where we are on Facebook -- and that's all before lunch. I'm so deep in it myself, that my cell phone sits right next to my pillow in bed. I begin to get tinges of anxiety when my iPhone hits the dreaded 20 percent battery level. That little red icon on the upper right of my screen is my sworn enemy - which is why it's rare you'll find me without an extra charger. I have this irrational fear that I'll be stranded in the middle of a dessert, penniless and without shoes with a dead iPhone. The closest desert is thousands of miles away.
I've been noticing a trend more and more within my circle of friends and within our generation as a whole: We can't seem to get by without some sort of interaction with our phone. I was out to dinner with a friend, who leaves his phone on the table, face up, constantly checking it while we're eating. I began wondering if I was completely boring or if he was expecting a text from the Pope. Another friend couldn't watch a movie at home without checking his phone every 15 minutes or so. At concerts, we're seeing the concert through the lens of the camera app rather then experiencing it as it was meant to be experienced. I have friends whose faces I haven't seen in years because they're always looking down at their phone -- but I know the top of their head very well.
A group of my guy friends went out to celebrate a birthday and at one point I noticed that every one of us was doing something on our phones. One of the boys suggested we all put our phones in a pile and whoever checked their phone first had to pay the tab. It worked. We may love our phones but we love not being broke more. No one wanted to pay that gargantuan alcohol bill, so the phones sat in a glowing pile, buzzing and chirping away.
We aren't experiencing life. We're losing moments with every tap. It's cheating, really. We may be physically present with our friends and loved ones but we're texting some one else... or checking a sports score... or tweeting... or reading the latest Kyle McMahon article (Please continue reading, btw).
I challenge you to try this: Put down the phone. Put down the iPad. Be present and be in the moment for just one day. Enjoy the conversation of those that are physically with you -- those who have chosen to take time out of their lives and spend it with you. Watch an entire movie without checking your phone. Have a full conversation without glancing at a screen. Disconnect for just a moment. I'm up for the challenge...are you?
Kyle has appeared multiple times on the Emmy-winning Oprah's Lifeclass series on "Fatherless Sons" on OWN . His song, "A Letter 2 My Younger Self (Fatherless Sons)," is available as a free download and the music video is available on YouTube. He is writing his first book, MAN UP! An Action Plan for Fathers in conjunction with Fatherless. Check out the Kyle McMahon website for more information. You can follow him on Twitter, Google+ or Facebook.