How to kill time without your phone

Send a quick "I'm here!" text, then put your phone away and strike up a conversation with the bartender.

Story highlights

  • Instead of pretending not to see someone 6 inches away from you, say "hello"
  • Resist texting or playing with apps and try to value time with your friends
  • A study shows 75% of respondents have used their phone in the bathroom
During one's bustling life there are a collection of moments -- fragments out of time -- that afford one a sense of slow-down reflection. A kind of reprieve from the mania that is living.
The 15 seconds it takes for the light to turn green. The 30 seconds waiting in line for one's morning coffee. The minute-and-a-half of unsupervised freedom you get before your boss climbs out from under his/her desk, wipes the tears from his/her scarlet face and resumes steering the good ship Your Job.
And how do many of us pass those few free seconds when time slows down, the breeze buffets our staid faces and we're reminded that we are all pinpricks on some great, spinning orb lost in infinite space? Contemplating one's very storied existence? Or fiddling with Instagram in an effort to look busy?
Likely, it's the latter.
Which brings us to this week's challenge: Make like our forefathers (or, you know, us, five years ago) when they were faced with a spare moment and take a look at the whole damn world around you, instead of where your ex just checked in on Foursquare (the strip club down by the river?! WTF?!).
Lest you waver in your attempts to stay vigilant, remember, we'll be taking this challenge right along with you -- and we're some twitchy people.
Now, without further ado, here are five instances in which we task you with holstering your cell and, like the big brave boy/girl that you are, staring into the rheumy eyes of the world around you and saying: "My birds are mad as hell, and I'm not going to play them anymore."
1) In the elevator.
We know, we know, the elevator is probably one of the top five most awkward places in the world -- what with the cattle-like proximity to strangers and co-workers alike creating a moist, coffee- and morning breath-scented jungle stew of humanity each morning.
"If I don't check my e-mail" you may cry, "What in the hell am I even to look at? The numbers slowly illuminating until we reach my floor? That little TV screen displaying daily grooming tips and vocabulary words? But, but, but... I already KNOW what a 'widget' is!"
How about, might we suggest, saying "Hello" to your fellow metal box occupants? Especially people you actually know -- it's awkward and borderline weird-as-balls to pretend not to see someone 6 inches away from you.
Besides, don't people in romantic comedies (and Aerosmith songs) always meet in elevators? Do you really want to trade in a madcap romantic adventure culminating in a frantic race to the airport for a quick fiddle with Facebook mobile? We didn't think so.
2) In transit lines.
Speaking of airports... (See what we did there?) Waiting in line for any kind of transit -- airport security, the subway, the bus, (insert other ring of hell here) -- can be a maddening state of affairs.
"I just want to get SOMEWHERE!" you might rant, gnashing your teeth, "I am very important and very busy and I just want to get on this people-moving device so that I can sit around and finally get SOMEWHERE!"
Such mania will often impel one to take out one's phone and swipe madly through a variety of screens with much eye-rolling and sighing -- in an effort to display just how busy and harried one is -- even if, in reality, one is merely scrolling through one's Spotify playlist of Disney music.
In such cases, cease and desist with the heart attack-inducing displays on impatience and, I dunno, meditate or something?
Seriously, you'll get there eventually, and, in the meantime, you'll probably start slowing everyone else down when you inevitably get so distracted looking for the Glee kids' cover of fun.'s "We Are Young" that you listlessly come to a complete halt in the middle of the subway stairs.
3) When your friends are doing something you don't want to be doing.
Not into going to museums? Fair enough. Not really digging on this band? That's fine. Just trying to get through "Beauty and the Beast" in 3D? WTF is wrong with you?
We get it. Sometimes friends rope you into activities that might not be your bag, and, in an effort to be a good pal, you go along for the ride anyway, whiling away the time with Words With Friends until you can finally leave MoMA/Terminal 5/the movie theatre and drink.
But here's the thing, dude, your friends (the real ones, not the one that just played "Areola" for 73 points) are on to you. Mostly because, you know, everyone can see your phone glowing like an eye-busting beacon through this darkened theatre. So put it away and get some freaking culture.
4) Waiting for people at bars.
Your cellphone won't really dissuade the creepiest of creepers ("Hey lady, who you texting? Me? Oh, right, you don't have my number. Want it?") so give up the charade. Send your friend or date a quick "I'm here!" text and then quit illuminating your "going-out face" with the blue, blue light of your iPhone 4S.
"But what shall I do in meantime?" you may whine. "It's much too dark in this little dive to continue slogging my way through IQ84!" Well, why not chat with the bartender?
Folks of that profession are likely of the artistic-leaning variety, and require sad, sad tales to continue crafting the songs/books/short films that are their true passions. So let fly -- you can't really afford a therapist anyway.
5) Anywhere where you are not fully clothed.
We've said it before, but it appears that we have to say it again, judging from a recent study showing that 75% of respondents have used their phone in the bathroom. Just... c'mon you guys...