I don’t know about you but my phone is practically attached to my hand. All through the day, I am constantly checking emails, messages, voicemails, calls, social media, the news. The list goes on. I can’t recall a time where I didn’t have my phone on me or a screen glaring in my face. At times, it feels like a strange obsessive habit where I filter through all the usual apps to see if anything has changed. It only hit recently that this isn’t normal behavior when I knew nothing had changed yet I was about to check again. It made me question, “Why is it so hard to put our phones down?”
I know I am not the only one because sitting on the subway in New York City, practically everyone is staring into a screen. Enter any coffee house, the majority are on their phones. Go out to dinner with a group of friends, at some point during the night the phone comes out and Instagram is now the main focus. So what’s going on with our culture?
I know for me, I use my phone as a distraction, when I am bored, or when I really don’t want to be present. The latter is what hit me as the most intriguing. I use it as a way to not feel what’s going on and to get out of the present moment. If something bad happened at work, I check my phone to not feel the uncomfortable feelings. If I am by myself at night, I want to be validated that something important is going on in my life via an email and Instagram. It made me wonder, how many others use it as a way to escape reality, to numb feelings, to avoid social interaction. Is this now the new norm and could we ever go back to a time where we can put our phones down for a longer than an hour?
I think of how many friends who have told me “The last thing I do before bed is look at my phone and the first thing I do when I wake up is look at my phone”. There has got to be a healthier way to live.
So, as an experiment that may ruffle a few feathers, I am going to challenge myself to reduce my phone time. What that looks like is not taking it everywhere I go. Maybe I actually go to the coffee shop and not have my phone on me. On the subway, I’ll try to not have my phone in my hands or music playing in my ears. At dinner, I won’t Instagram what I am doing that evening. In the mornings, I will try and build a new routine besides scrolling through emails. Maybe even meditate or journal before beginning work! Or after a certain time at night, power down my phone so I can remain present and open to new ideas, intuition, and feelings. It’s amazing how even writing out the many ways to change, I can vividly see how my phone has become a blocker in certain situations.
This isn’t going to be easy. I can already feel myself going into withdrawal, but I really wonder how much better my life will be by infusing these new actions into my routine. What will happen to the quality of my life? If you are interested in trying this challenge with me let me know in the comments. If you want me to write a follow up to this post, let me know that as well.
(Initially published on Dec 7th, 2017.)