Okay, I’ll admit it, I am addicted to my phone. It is never more than 5 feet away from me at any time. It’s my phone, alarm clock, diary, food tracker, iPod and camera all rolled into one! I would truly be lost without it. You see, I have what I term, compulsive communication disorder. A symptom of this disorder is the constant need to be in touch and connected. It wouldn’t be at all uncommon for me to have 5 or 6 text conversations happening simultaneously (cause there’s no way that could be bad!) Add to this the multiple social media platforms, which I “need” to keep up to date with, and it’s a wonder I haven’t developed some sort of repetitive strain injury from clicking in to and out of all the apps!
I will also admit that this has caused a certain amount of disharmony in my household over the years. My husband feels he doesn’t get the best of my attention, and loath as I am to admit it, he is probably right! Truth be told, my technology dependency has been at the root of more than one argument in the past! So, partly to try to wean myself off my drug of choice and partly to see if I could do it, I decided to have a technology free day. A couple of weeks ago I committed to turning my phone off on Friday night at midnight, and not turning it back on for a full 24 hour period. That meant no texts, email, social media, blogging etc. for one whole day.
I really didn’t have any idea how this was going to play out. I was expecting to feel very twitchy without my beloved devices. I experience fear of missing out at the best of times, but taking a 24 hour break from checking in with the “world” was a whole other ball game. Surprisingly, it was fine. My hands felt a little like they had nothing to do, but mentally, I didn’t struggle as much as I had expected. In fact, I felt like that Saturday evening was the first time I had truly relaxed in ages. It was as if switching my phone off, actually allowed me to switch off too. I felt refreshed and revived after it, and shockingly, I did not miss out on anything too earth shattering while I was off the grid.
In the weeks following my little experiment, I began to notice more and more of my behaviour in relation to my phone. The other night, I was sitting reading a really great book. I was enjoying it immensely and if anyone had asked me, I would have said I was engrossed in it. Not true, it seems. Every time the little light on my phone would flash, I would immediately abandon my book to tend to it. Without fail, the allure of the little green light was too much to resist. Like a sirens call it beckoned me away from what I actually wanted to be doing.
As I noticed myself doing this, I started to wonder where this sense of immediacy is stemming from. I know I am not the only person who experiences it. Just because someone sends me a text, or tags me in a meme on social media, doesn’t mean they own me. Why can I not just allow the little light to blink until the time is convenient for me to deal with it? I know that when I send a message to someone, I certainly don’t expect an immediate response. So, why do I feel like I have to drop everything, literally, and give my phone urgent attention? Has my attention span become so shortened by technology that I am powerless to avoid distraction?
Whatever the cause of this, now that I have become aware of it, I am eager to make a change. It troubles me greatly that a device, which should be making my life easier, has gained control of me. Instead of helping me to be more productive, it is having the exact opposite effect. Rather than allowing me to be more social, it is only serving as a barrier between me and those I am physically with.
Realistically, going cold turkey is not a solution. I do need to use my phone for certain things. However, I would estimate that about 50% of the time I currently spend staring at the little screen, is time that I don’t need to be doing it. Wasted time essentially, flicking between apps and checking on stats. Maybe if I could reduce this amount of time, it would help release technology’s grip on me.
So, here’s what I am going to do. From today, when I am reading or watching something on TV that I care about (i.e. not just when it’s on for background noise,) or talking to you lovely people, my phone will be out of sight. I will put it in a place where I physically need to cross the room to access it. In this way, I will at least be conscious of what I am doing, and how often I do it. When I spend time with family or friends, my phone will stay in my handbag, so again, checking it will require a conscious decision. A wise woman told me recently then when we pass 30, we lose the ability to multitask. Bearing that in mind, I want to give what’s important to me, the best of my attention.
It bothers me greatly that I have to ration technology in this way, but I have proven to myself, that I can’t be trusted to cell phone responsibly. Let me know if you have experienced similar issues, or if you have any ideas for me. I will keep you up to date with my progress. Be well xxx