Stop the Madness
...Put down your phone!
Have you watched the documentary Social Media Distractions on Netflix yet? I feel it was an eye opening, yet truthful depiction of what social media has done to our lives.
As a Millennial born in 1985, the majority of my young life was without technology. I had my first cell phone when I was 16, and that was one of those big "peanut" phones. I thought I was super cool when I got the Motorola Razr for Christmas before college. Facebook didn't come along until my freshman year of College, and you had to be 'invited' by someone to join. There wasn't a Facebook app; you didn't have the distractions and constant notifications in your hand at all times.
Now, I don't go anywhere without my phone because someone might need to get a hold of me. Someone might start a text conversation that I want to be involved in. I might miss the news notifications that come across at all times of the day. What if I don't check Facebook or Instagram 14 times an hour - what if I miss something??
Is this any way to live? It is understandable that we live in a world where connection is everything, and where it can be a very positive platform to spread good energy and feelings. It can also go the other way and be a very negative place where people feel empowered to bully and bring others down. I don't feel this is new information to you. If you have been around social media for any amount of time, you know how nasty people can be and how people can build each other up. There is also the spread of misinformation, which I feel is important to mention but I won't be going into that detail here.
I want to focus on the distraction of your phone. How can you stop yourself from picking up your phone when your hands are idle? How can you give yourself a break from the constant barrage of information being thrown at you through the cell waves? And why is it important that we do this?
Why should we stop the obsession?
Let's start with the WHY. Here's a scenario that I will admit that I have been a part of:
I am on my phone, checking the latest posts on Instagram and watching the stories of people who I haven't actually had a conversation with in over 15 years. My son comes into the room and is trying to tell me something. I am half listening, because the screen has captured my full attention. He starts to get frustrated because he is asking me questions that I am half heartedly answering with a nod. He leaves, goes to his room, and shuts the door. I keep looking at my phone, fully unaware that I have disappointed my son.
Does that sound familiar to you parents out there? Put yourself in your child's shoes. How do you think they feel when they come and try to talk to you, and get no reaction? Do you ever get upset with them for being on their phone or video games? How is it different for them - aren't they allowed to get upset with you? But, how would your reaction be if they asked you to get off the phone - let me guess - you'll tell them you are an adult and you can do what you want. Hmm.
The same thing happens when your significant other is trying to have a conversation with you and you refuse to put down the phone. The fact that something else is more important than the conversation at hand is... Sad? Hurtful? Frustrating? A true sign of what is truly important to you? You pick. Either way, it sucks.
Breaking the Habit
Okay, so we've identified one major WHY - there are many more, but the relationship piece, to me, is the most crucial to fix. Our phones are taking us away from each other. Taking our attention away from what really needs to be most important in our lives - actual human connection. Now - how do we break the habit of picking up our phone each time our hands are idle?
While this is highly dependent on how your personal habits, here are a few ideas:
Don't touch your phone until you fully ready for the day. No more checking Facebook or emails in bed. Get up, get ready, and then check your essentials.
Keep your phone out of your room. Buy an actual alarm clock (those still exist!) and charge your phone away from you at night.
Set limits on your phone. There's an app for that! (Of course there is!) Off Screen, In a Moment, and Space are just a few out there. Find the one that works for you, make a reasonable plan, and stick to it!
Turn off notifications. Why do you need to know each time you get another 'like' on your post, or when someone wants to be your 'friend'? Do you really need to know the score of every NFL game? You can turn off these notifications and only check your phone on your time. Not when it tells you to.
Put the phone away for meal times, talk to your kids and significant others about making driving time for talking, not playing on the phone.
Start bringing a book (a real book with pages you turn by hand) everywhere you go. instead of playing on your phone while waiting for the doctor or at the DMV, read! Indulge your mind in words on a page rather than on a screen.
Look around and notice the world happening around you - in line at the grocery store, at the park, walking the dog.
I hope everything I've said isn't anything new to you. I hope that you know what a distraction your phone really is for you and your loved ones. I hope that for you, it is a matter of changing some habits and stop letting your phone control you - you are always in control!
What are some phone habits that you have that you want to break? What advice do you have for someone to help break the phone habit?