Day 116 – Put down the damn iPhone!

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really really really love my iPhone. It helps me stay connected to my Facebook and Twitter friends. I can stay connected to my clients and my work. I can text people. There are gazillion apps to solve every woes. It promises almost endless hours of distractions. Somewhere along the way, I became one of those people. You know who I’m talking about. Maybe you’re one of them. That person that’s constantly glued to the iPhone.

My iPhone is an object that I interact with not because I want to but because I sort of feel anxious when I don’t. I fall asleep with the iPhone (checking for those last-minute updates, likes, comments, emails, or Googling for that piece of information I just have to know) and wake up to the iPhone’s alarm. As soon as my eyes open, I check it. I walk down the busy streets of San Francisco, intensely focused on that little screen. I’m even guilty of bringing it into the bathroom.

Here’s the thing – I don’t want to be that person. I don’t want to be that person that can’t enjoy her dinner with her husband because she’s reading her emails – from her clients! I don’t want to be that person that misses the details of life because she’s glued to that screen. I want to be present. I want to be aware. I want to be mindful.

So, what’s the solution? I tried different tricks – I deleted Facebook and Twitter app from my phone. That sort of worked, for a while. But that didn’t feel right because the apps aren’t the problem. The problem is that I am interacting with my iPhone as a default way of being. Have a spare second? A moment of downtime? Check the iPhone. I tried leaving my iPhone behind (I KNOW!) but I just spent the day sort of missing the damn thing. These solutions felt punitive.

The next solution was to start paying attention to that very moment when I got the urge to reach for the iPhone. Why do I need to check my iPhone? What is the purpose? Is there some other activity I should be paying attention to? Instead of simply giving into the habit of checking it, I would add a brief pause. Turns out, that brief pause, adding a second of thought to consider why I’m reaching for that phone goes a long way to breaking the vicious habit. I can honestly acknowledge that I’m reaching for the phone out of habit and not because there’s a real need. I can also choose some different activity instead of mindlessly checking for the 100th time for Facebook updates.

Yesterday, instead of walking down the streets of San Francisco, mindlessly glued to that little screen, risking getting run over by a car, I enjoyed the walk. I looked up at the sky and noticed the clouds. I noticed the people as they walked by. I smiled at strangers and noticed those that smiled back. I even paused to listen to the volunteer worker from Amnesty International, instead of my usual MO which is to ignore them and continue to look for that latest “like.”

The past weekend, we went on a one night camping trip. No Wi-Fi. No reception. No updates. No “likes.” No virtual friends. Just me, my husband, sunshine, and fresh air. We watched the sunset, for the first time in a long time.

It felt really good.

 

If you haven’t seen it already, watch this video of Louis C.K. explaining why he hates smartphones.

 

And this: I Forgot My Phone.

 

 

 

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