If you were to turn your phone off for an entire day, how would you feel? A weekend? What about a week? I’m guessing you’d feel pretty lost or fearful that you missed out on something. Here’s another thought – what if you went on a vacation with absolutely NO technology? No means of checking Facebook, Instagram, your emails (from home, blogs, or work), etc. If you have, you are pretty darn amazing. How did it feel? I can’t say I’m the golden child over here because I certainly keep it on my person all.the.time. I don’t know if it’s a feeling of comfort, knowing I’m a phone call away from something, a distraction, or just the fear of missing out.
I do try to unplug when we are in the mountains mostly because there is minimal reception, I’m far enough away from anyone that I can’t really make spur of the moment plans, and I’m so absorbed in the greenery (or white-space if it’s winter…yes, California does get snow and it’s some of the best!) that I don’t need to check in on what I’m missing out on or stay up to date with everyone’s adventures.
If you haven’t done this, try it out. Pick a place that maybe doesn’t get the best reception or just leave your phone off while you hike. No, I’m not saying you need to pull an “Into the Wild” sort of deal and disappear, but think about it – how many people do you see with a iPhone or smartphone in hand on a daily basis. I think it’s become the new security blanket for adults.
I was at a friend’s party in the city on Saturday and towards the end of the night, one of the girl’s iphones broke. Not in the way that it fell on the floor and shattered. No, apparently that had already happened before. Instead it was on top of a speaker and the speaker fell on it (I have a feeling she was dancing a little close to the speaker but she would never claim to have done it) and practically bent her phone into what looked like a technological lounge chair. I’m pretty sure I would be quite upset to lose something so dear to my heart, at least in the sense it’s my outlet home, my main method of communication, and another method to express myself. But in the end it’s a material good and can be replaced. Well, I was on the other side of the room and just surprised at how this girl reacted. She demanded to use her sister’s phone for the night and at some point in time, was in a conversation with her boyfriend and practically screaming how she was so mad she wanted to die.
I never really considered how addicted we have become to our cell phones, or really any piece of technology for that matter. The moments I spend walking to and from the subway, riding the subway, and even throughout the city, I see people buried in their phone.
So what about staying in the moment? One of my best friends and I discuss this every so often and she sent me a link the other day called “Becoming Minimalist – Unplug Please“. I am by no means putting technology down. I am far-beyond impressed by how it has evolved during the past several decades. But there is a point where we need to set it aside and come back to the moment. Some of the best points of the article include:
- 84% of cell phone users claim they could not go a single day without their device. (source)
- 67% of cell phone owners check their phone for messages, alerts, or calls — even when they don’t notice their phone ringing or vibrating. (source)
- 88% of U.S. consumers use mobile devices as a second screen even while watching television. (source) guilty here
- Almost half of cell owners have slept with their phone next to their bed because they wanted to make sure they didn’t miss any calls. (source) guilty here too…mostly as a safety tool
- I’m sure you’ve all seen this YouTube video “I Forgot My Phone“, which follows the life of a woman and how absorbed her friends and even family have become with their smartphone, even more so than talking to each other.
I can already predict the new wave of clients who will have to ask for pain killers or physical therapy later in life because they spent too much of their prime straining their necks to see their phone. I already feel like I’ve reached this sad stage based on the fact that my back kills me from sitting a majority of the day and my hand kills me from typing. Who knows, maybe I’m getting carpal tunnel at the lovely age of 22. Ok, maybe a little dramatic and I know I need to stop reading into WebMd.com so much, but it happens.
I’m working with some of the articles benefits of unplugging along with some tips:
1. Remove unhealthy feelings of jealousy, envy, and loneliness – (source) Did you know that most people actually feel worse after checking Facebook or some other form of social media? Between feeling unhappy with their body to their relationships to their lives in general, it can be a black hole. Of course it’s a good way to keep in touch with some people, but then what happened to phone conversations? By unplugging, you can reset and refocus your life and become grateful for what you do have.
2. FOMO – Oh you know the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is a HUGE trend now and had a huge impact on my happiness or sometimes lack thereof in college. Unplugging again resets our wants and expectations for ourselves, our days, and our lives. We don’t have to do EVERYTHING just because someone else is doing it.
3. Searching for Solitude – Another reason I feel so attached to my phone is because living in such a big city, away from most of my friends and family can be lonely. Sometimes when I think about striking up a conversation with a friend, I notice they already have their phone out – checking twitter, instagram, facebook. I wonder if I say something completely outrageous, I would get their attention. I admit I have issues with “down-time” and yet solitude allows us to reflect on our lives and pinpoint what or who is really important.
4. “Life, at its best, is happening right in front of you.” The world is changing. End of story. But as I’m sure you’ve heard before, the best moments occur right in front of you.
I’m still learning the process of “unplugging” so why don’t you test it out with me? I plan to stop relying on my phone as a distraction while eating, walking, definitely while driving. I want to avoid whipping out my phone to check the time, my messages, or play games. Let’s try to look around us, go for a walk or strike up a conversation, even if it’s with someone completely random (I personally think those are the best). Again, I’m not claiming to be the best example, I’m just asking that we start to consider such things a little more before we end up at 90, wondering what happened to the world and it’s beauty.
“If I had my life to live over again, I would ask that not a thing be changed, but that my eyes be opened wider.” – Jules Renard