Zachary Styles

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“The only thing I know for sure, is that I don’t know anything for sure.”

Irony wins

Today’s article is somewhat of a thought-piece. It’s something I’ve had on my mind for some time and hadn’t sat down to flesh-out until now — probably because I’ve been avoiding it. So here we go:

I worry about how people see me looking at my phone.

So often I hear people complain about how we’re always on our phones. In fact, I’m sometimes one of those people. I look at those around me, when I take a break from working or reading something that I’m learning from, and I judge them.

I think to myself, “what are you doing on your phone, scrolling through Instagram mindlessly and double-tapping like it’s your job.” But then I realise I’m being a hypocrite. Here I am, on my laptop (or even my own phone) and judging other people while they’re on theirs. Why?

I think it’s because I only know half the story.

One side or no side

I’m not looking straight at their screen (because that would be hella creepy), so all I’m really seeing is them being on their phone. That’s it. I don’t actually know what they’re doing or scrolling through.

For so long I’ve looked at people and I hadn’t realised how much of an ass I was by judging them. I hear the voices of boomers who never grew up with phones in their current capacity and I think about how naive I’m acting.

And do you know what made me realise that naivety? Being on my phone.

Tools are tools, so don’t be one

Sometimes I don’t have my laptop on me, and while I prefer to read emails through my desktop, sometimes all I have on me is my phone. So what do I do? I take out my phone and read the emails I’ve been avoiding. Maybe I’m catching up on articles, or maybe I’m reading the news, or even replying to a comment on Instagram (and then quickly leaving the app). But I’m doing it on my phone.

There I am, waiting in line to grab a coffee or spend far too much on groceries, and I’m on my Pocket reading a story or catching up on my favourite thinkers on Twitter. And when it’s my turn in the queue, I slide my phone back into my pocket and I look across and see someone else on their phone a few aisles away.

My first instinct, ironically, is to mentally judge them. “Jeez bro, get off your phone.” And then it hits me, I was literally just on my own phone. Besides, I don’t even know what that guy is reading or watching. Maybe he’s reviewing the contract for a huge client he’s just landed, or he’s researching where he’s going to send his kids to school the following year.

The only thing I know for sure, is that I don’t know anything for sure.

That makes me think. And now I’m conflicted. First, I would judge people for being on their phones so much, because I imagined them doing unproductive things (I know, very judgy), and now I sit (or stand) on my phone and hope others don’t judge me for the same thing.

It doesn’t matter what they think, or does it?

I know I don’t owe anyone anything, and those who I used to judge never owed me anything either. But isn’t it funny how we catch ourselves out like that? How we think we’re being righteous, when all we are is ignorant.

Now I look up from my phone after I’ve read an article or posted WIP shots to Instagram, I catch someone’s eye looking across at me, and I imagine how they might be judging me. I almost want to tell them, “it’s not what you think.” But then I ask myself, “who cares what they think?”

Well, apparently I do.

Full-time designer, illustrator and lettering artist. Part time lecturer. Part time student. Experiencing the world through words, both written and drawn.