Swiping, pressing, subscribing, texting, and talking—for the past 10 years of my life, I have been held captive by a magnificent device called a “cell phone”. During those 10 years, cell phones have drastically changed and most of us now have a smart phone, the newer more advanced older sibling to what we once thought was the pinnacle of communication. This is by no means a post to bash smart phone users or millennials (as so many people are wont to do these days); I’ve just noticed as of late that my compulsion to check my phone every few minutes has become unrelenting.
It seems like I’m always reaching for it, simply because someone may have texted me, or may have liked a picture on Instagram. No real purpose is in my action, just the possibility of a quick stimulus to leave me satisfied for a little while before I repeat the masochistic process. As soon as I noticed the habitual behaviour creep its head into the social interactions I had with my friends or boyfriend I knew it was time to make a change. My goal for this post is not to judge anyone for these habits, because some people may be perfectly content with them and that’s totally fine. What I wanted to do is layout some of the reasons why I think it’s important to give yourself some time away from the online world and simply exist in the present moment.
BEING CONSUMED BY SOCIAL MEDIA RATHER THAN CONSUMING IT
I think it can be agreed that the development of social media is the best thing that could have happened for someone like me who enjoys connecting with people from the comfort of a couch. Before social media came about all my writing was done in a notebook, for no one to read but myself. Once I realized I could start sharing my creations online and getting feedback from people who appreciated the work I put into my passion I was hooked on this virtual reality and all the opportunities it provided me.
However, as I’ve delved deeper into the blog-a-sphere and really immersed myself in creating content that is not only written but also visually stimulating, I’ve learned that a lot of importance lies with social platforms. Recently I’ve felt as though these platforms have begun consuming me and taking up more of my time than is necessary. I’ve found myself spending hours scrolling through feeds and revisiting certain pages. I was no longer consuming the content; the content was consuming me. This is not good considering writing takes a lot of time and effort, but most of that was put toward something as effortless as the up and down motion of my thumb.
The main reason I go on social media is for a distraction, either at work, or when I feel like I am bored. Boredom is something I am trying to eradicate from my life as well as my vocabulary. Nothing is being accomplished when I look through beautiful feeds other than feeling envious and then stupid for not spending this time working on my own. I’ll look back to a time before cell phones and picture what I used to do for entertainment—considering I am an introvert, most of that time was spent writing or reading. But as I’ve gotten older and the entire world is at your fingertips, it’s become increasingly harder to step away from it and actually read an entire novel, let alone write one.
We are all trying to accomplish something and if you also feel like your phone has become a distraction, I think it’s time we all vow to put our devices away for at least an hour a day without looking at them. Just an hour. That’s not too long, is it?
THERE IS ONLY SO MUCH TIME IN A DAY
There are 24 hours in a day. There have always been 24 hours in a day. And yet, lately I’ve felt like there’s only half that. Amidst full-time work, laundry, dinner, showers, bathroom breaks, when does anyone get anything done anymore? This might be what some of you think, or not, but it’s definitely a struggle I deal with on a daily basis. However, once I factor in the time I spend watching a series on Netflix, or catching up on Youtube videos, podcasts, Instagram feeds, twitter feuds, etc, I realize that there is still a lot of time I just haven’t been using it very wisely. I’m not saying we shouldn’t do any of this anymore, but I think moderation is key and really thinking about what you’re devoting your time to is important.
I've been trying to blog more lately which I find to be incredibly relaxing, not to mention the opportunity this hobby gives you to also make money from your passion. Looking back at all the time I wasted just casually scrolling through my phone instead of working on my blog pains me.
Along with gaining more time is the notion of freedom, and I feel like I have given mine up. I am a slave to a device a little bigger than my hand—captivated by it’s bright lights and colours. It’s always with me, tucked away in my pocket or grasped tightly in my hand. It gives me the answers to difficult questions and I never second-guess it. It tells me where to go and how to get there. It is a guiding light, a leader, a fortuneteller. It has become a new religion and all of us have been indoctrinated. This is not necessarily bad, but is it good if we didn’t even notice it happening? My phone has become such an important part of my life that I could spend more time with it than any one person. That’s a scary realization.
A LACK OF APPRECIATION
Even as I draft up this blog post, my fingers are itching for my phone. I told myself I would dedicate an hour to writing (something that I love to do) without my phone, and I can’t genuinely appreciate this time because I have grown accustom to the external stimulation. There is a cold wind in Toronto today and the clouds are blowing past my window incredibly quickly, but I would have never noticed that if my phone were next to me. My plant is looking a little dry. When was the last time I watered it? My phone has been keeping track of that schedule, but I’ve only just noticed that it might not be doing the trick.
I think the main takeaway from this post should be that, while technology is an incredible achievement and has provided those of us fortunate enough to use it so many more opportunities than our predecessors, we still need to acknowledge it’s negative impacts. We are social animals and while it’s called ‘social media’ it doesn’t have the same benefits as face-to-face connection does.
Have any of you experienced this struggle with your phone? Will you be taking the challenge to step away from it?