For those of you paying attention, you might have noticed I took a few days off from the hard work of blogging.
The Utah Carters spent a week in Oklahoma hanging out with the Carters from that land, and frankly, I didn’t open my computer even once. I didn’t keep up with the news or social media.
Half the time I didn’t even know where my phone was.
To be fair, I also didn’t keep up with my meditation, calorie counting, or gratitude journal most days either. You can’t win them all! (I did study up on Stoicism through something called “books,” however, which I’ll write about later.)
Setting out, my intention wasn’t to have a week of seclusion. My brother’s wifi was acting up and I didn’t have regular access to charging stations.
The issue was forced, for the most part.
But it enhanced the week so, so much.
I was present in conversations.
I didn’t stare at my phone for an hour before bed.
I fell behind on over 800 work emails, and 300 personal ones.
I even went without my beloved Waze, and relied on my old knowledge of the town to get around.
It was pretty great, actually. All of it.
I’ve blogged about some uncomfortable things here, but they’ve mostly been things I’ve conquered or tamed.
Smartphone addiction is one I’m working on.
That’s a real thing, too. I mean, it has a sciency name (nomophobia) and a few studies behind it, but you may not associate it with drugs or alcohol and other common addictions.
It may not be as destructive as those, but I still think it can do some serious harm.
As of 2013 we check our smartphones over 150 times a day (has to be much higher now, I think). That’s roughly every seven minutes of our waking hours. And every time we check it, we lose our focus on whoever or whatever is in front of us. It’s a major reason why we’re now below goldfish in attention span.
It’s hard not to turn your head when the thing beeps. Hell, it’s hard not to look when someone else’s phone beeps. It’s instinctive, like a dog losing its mind when a doorbell rings.
Just the mere visible presence of a smartphone hinders conversations. According to one study, 20% of us are somehow managing to use it during sex.
Playgrounds are places that distract our kids so we can get some good one-on-one time with our phones.
I could go on, but you’ve heard this before.
We all have.
I always think, “I don’t have a smartphone addiction. I can go without it any time.”
*DING* and I’m on it like a drunken frat boy.
I really don’t want this to be preachy. “I Don’t Own a Smartphone” Guy is nearly as intolerable as “I Don’t Watch TV” Guy.
I’m not giving up my smartphone. You shouldn’t either.
But it’s worth trying to see if you can rely on it a little less.
See how it feels to be a little less plugged into what’s happening there, and more plugged into the people and places around you.
I kinda loved it. It was awkward at first, but then the feeling of not having it in my hands went away.
The only time I reached for it was when information was needed to inform the conversation.
But as it turns out, you don’t have to know the exact date and location of the Boz Scaggs concert right then.
Even better, when you do get to your phone, and can look up that information, it’s even better. It’s a chance to have another conversation.