People check phones all the time now: At red lights. On commuter-train platforms. In the elevator. While walking down the street.
And all these little stray bits of time are when we used to zone out, stare at what was around us, check our mental to-do lists, mull over what happened at work, or count the days until vacation. Sometimes we daydreamed, and sometimes we eavesdropped on conversations around us.
I wonder if we've lost anything valuable in filling those idle random moments. I've long been a big proponent of the idea that daydreaming, rest, and zoning out are a neecessary part of a creative life, and a healthy life in general. I believe the mind needs time to wander. I've also long been resistant to the notion that we have to be outwardly productive every second.
Maybe I'm wrong, and these idle moments serve no real purpose. But I've been making a conscious effort to go with them when they crop up. To look around me, rather than constantly busying myself. I can't point to a quantifiable output resulting from these moments, but I feel the need to just let them happen.