The ability to see things objectively often requires a trigger event.
The event for me was spending 4 days at a friend’s cabin with no cell service.
With no connection to the outside world, I elected to turn my phone off and leave it in my travel bag for the entirety of the trip.
Despite the weekly report from Apple of my hourly usage each week, it takes complete absence to understand the extent to which our phones have become physical appendages.
The average person taps, swipes or clicks on their smartphone 2,600x a day. This statistic is not shocking when we contemplate the extent of the integrated capabilities today’s phones offer. Whether work related, social media, texting, email, music, podcasts, videos…it is all readily available.
Some people become irritable when deprived of a decent wi-fi connection. We risk life to send texts from the road.
The University of Texas published a study showing that participants who had phones on their desk, even turned off, did worse on cognitive tests than those who left their phones in a different room.
This isn’t to suggest that smartphones don’t have value or haven’t improved our lives. Many of us however have or are beginning to recognize the potential for these devices to be addictive and that they can affect us negatively.
We can easily point to what a phone can do for us, however it isn’t as easy to point to how it hurts us in other aspects of our lives.
During my short absence from my smartphone, I noticed a few changes in my behavior and thought patterns:
· My attention span increased
· If I became bored, I read, walked, stretched, and journaled
· My mind wandered allowing me to come up with ideas
· Time slowed down making this short vacation truly valuable
· I felt like a kid again
Without time away from our phones, we lose the silence and space we need to be creative and solve problems.
Our phones may be great devices, but they are not improving our social relationships or our ability to create.
No wonder the “lightphone” (The Light Phone) which gives users access to very limited functions has grown in popularity. Many use it as a weekend or vacation phone.
For my part, I plan to utilize “airplane mode” more often and build up the spans of time where my phone is turned off and in another room. In addition, I try to keep my phone physically away from reach and sight when reading, spending time with family and friends.
Resisting the urge to pay attention to our phones requires not only objectiveness to its sway over our lives but focus and will. Schedule time to reflect and relax. This creates white space – a great way for ideas to present themselves outside of just the shower.
Have a great weekend,
I think 99 times and find nothing. I stop thinking, swim in the silence, and the truth comes to me. Albert Einstein
The very sight of a phone on the landscape leaves us feeling less connected to each other, less invested in each other. Sherry Turkle