Is my smartphone making me stupid?

“My smartphone broke and I feel so liberated,” my avant-garde niece told me.

“That’s it! I’m going on a technology diet,” I decided and shoved my electronic addictions in the drawer for a date with the great city of Chicago. My phone had become my umbilical cord to the voices of the world. I needed a break. I packed the holy trinity of creation: a book, a journal and a pen.

Into the city I marched. I passed the art nouveau-art deco Civic Opera overlooking the river. At the Daley Plaza, street buskers played the blues in front of the Picasso exhibit. The majestic green lions guarded the steps of the Art Institute.

At The Bean, I sat down with my journal and began to write. My brain needed time to decompress from the addictive hits it had been taking on my smartphone. I didn’t take a photo and post it on Facebook. I didn’t compare myself to anyone else. I didn’t hear the frenetic stories of murders or gossip. For one beautiful morning, I had a guilt-free love affair with the city I had taken for granted.

At Grant Park I looked at Agora, the headless, walking sculptures by the Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz. I could relate to those statues. In a way, I felt like I had been walking around without my own brain to myself by constantly checking my smartphone like a social media crackhead.

The Agora artist made me think of my mom. She had invited me to her condo to have a bowl of the homemade bean soup her Polish mother taught her how to make when she was a young girl in Chicago Heights. I decided to make the journey north on Michigan Avenue.

In her Oak Street condo, my mom dished us out bowls of hot soup. We shared stories and didn’t stop to Google our facts.

On the way home, it felt good to walk around with my own head on my shoulders again. Am I stupid, or is that avant-garde?

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