Ann Makosinski : Why I Don’t Use A Smart Phone

So I was definitely quite a loner but I did look up to some people in my life and while a lot of teens had modern like pop stars or actresses and actors they looked up to which I totally respected and I have some too, who I looked up to is a little different. And I couldn’t always relate with them. So for example, my family has the privilege of helping out with the Ravi Shankar archives. And so Ravi Shankar was a musician who brought the whole Indian culture and music from the East to the West in the ‘60s and ‘70s and really helped generate the hippie movement, and he worked for George Harrison.

And we had the privilege as a kid that I would travel to California and each summer I would learn from him and learn how his love and passion for what he was doing and bringing it and introducing it to people who had never seen any of this stuff before with something that he loved so much. And that really inspired me and one time we went and visited his family in India. I just was so shocked by the poverty there. That was the first time I’d ever experienced something like that and I was around eight years old there. So it was a huge shock.

And another time we went and visited some family in the Philippines, and I saw houses like this which you don’t see regularly where I come from in Canada. And I was just so taken aback. I didn’t fit in. I knew there were problems in the world, and I wanted to find a way to fix it simply. But I never thought I could actually accomplish any of that because I was just a regular teen who nobody really seemed to like except for a couple of outcast friends I also had.

So the two things my parents noticed that I loved to do was to tinker and to talk. And so I was enrolled in something that a lot of popular kids in high school do, just kidding, which is the science fair. So this is me in grade six. I looked like Harry Potter. I was very proud of this photo, by the way, I was comparing laundry detergents. So I started making projects and I started to get into the area of energy harvesting. I got the inspiration for my project when one of my friends in the Philippines told me that she failed to grade in school because she couldn’t afford electricity. So she didn’t have any light to study with at night. And this brought me back to my childhood days where I had a problem that in the beginning was for myself, I had to find a way to entertain myself, so I’d make my own inventions of my own toys.

But here was a problem that my friend had and I was like, oh, why can’t I invent a way to maybe help her out. So for that I made something that you may know me as the Flashlight girl for which is a flashlight that runs off the heat of the human hand. And that brought me to a whole new journey where I suddenly learned to be confident in who I was, because at first, to be honest, I didn’t think anyone would ever be interested in my project and to go to places like the Google Science Fair, it was absolutely amazing to see that people were really inspired in what I was doing. This year I presented my latest adventure which is called eDrink and it’s a coffee mug that utilizes the excess heat of your hot drink while you’re waiting for it to cool down and converts it into electricity, so you can eventually charge your phone or iPod from it.

Just because you’re in college and that you’re a university student, that does not mean that’s the only thing you are, that does not mean that like oh you know, I’m in university, you leave it at that, you’re not doing anything else. You can pursue whatever you want to do. You can start when you’re in high school. When I was in middle school I started making something – you can do whatever you want and you can — anything you dream of is possible but you have to start and work on it even if it’s just 20 minutes a day. That’s what I really wanted to emphasize today is that you have more opportunity and time to create when you have less. When you’re given less to start off with, your brain is designed to come up with different ways to solve your problems and to solve other people’s problems and issues.

And I think that’s so important to emphasize especially in today’s society where access — and like buying this and getting that, oh, that’s the latest fashion, so I should be wearing that and I should throw out everything else that I have is kind of the trend. And I really think in a way this kind of sounds slightly controversial but I truly believe that disconnecting helps you connect and create more. You don’t think about it but you will pick up your phone, you will check it like a couple seconds or a minute ever so often. And you think oh, I’m just briefly checking my phone. But if you add up every single minute, every single second you spend on your phone per day, it’s pretty terrifying. Really minimizing your distractions, so you can use your time most effectively is really important.

If there’s one thing I can leave you with today, for all of you who possess phones or even other devices, small electronic devices, it is that the next time you pick up your phone, think of all the possibilities off your phone and not on it.

Thank you.