When I was in Southern California recently, I had the opportunity to be in the audience of the Conan O’Brien show with my brother-in-law Brandon. My wife applied to get us tickets online when they became available and were quite happy when we ended up getting them. Along with the notice that we were going to be able to see the show were instructions that we were not going to be allowed to have our mobile phones with us during the taping. Since we were being essentially dropped off at the studio a couple of hours before the taping, we would have to relinquish the phones to our loved ones who would be driving around Los Angeles.
As we went into the waiting area we were searched for any weapons or other things not permitted into the studio and, naturally, they found nothing. The only thing each of us had with us was our wallets. As we sat down and looked around, it seemed clear that we were the only ones who paid any attention to the “no mobile phone” rule — everyone else had theirs with them!
At first, we both made jokes about how we would have nothing to do since we didn’t have our phones and we didn’t bring either books or portable game systems of any sort. I then pointed out that we would have to do what people did before they had mobile phones to distract them and actually be with each other — in the present.
The other thing about not having the mobile phone with you is that it is completely impossible for someone to call you on your mobile phone if you don’t have it with you. It’s not possible to reach you by text message, e-mail, and you can’t see what is new on Twitter or Facebook. Rather, all you have is the direct world around you.
We spent the next two hours talking about whatever came to mind. Since we had no phones and nothing else to distract us from actually being there in each others’ presence, we had to either sit and do nothing or sit and talk. We decided that we were going to talk and get to know each other just a little bit better. It was actually a fantastic two hours. In some ways the two hours before the show were more significant than the show itself.
The only downside to all this came after the show ended and we needed to get picked up. We hadn’t specified what time the show would end since we weren’t sure. I suggested that we ask anyone else there since they all had their mobile phones but Brandon wisely suggested that we use the phone at the security desk in the garage to contact my wife and his parents. It wasn’t too long before they picked us up and we had gotten a great opportunity to enjoy a bubble of technology free bliss.