A week and a half ago, I caught a cup of coffee with a girlfriend to tear open my heart about something I knew only she would understand, and therefore, not stand in judgment.
During the course of our conversation, we began discussing social media and how it affects our day-to-day functioning. I told her if I had the guts, I would love to completely unplug for a whole year, go back to a flip phone and all. If you’ve followed my blog since the beginning, you know that this is something I contemplate at least once a year. The reality is, I have more important things to do with my time than look at my phone. To be at its beckon call. To impulsively reach for it at a red light or while I wait in a doctor’s office. To allow it to entertain me for fear of boredom.
When I got home that night, I sent my friend a text saying I wanted to unplug at least for the upcoming week. I needed to realign myself. She agreed to do it with me. We checked in with each other every day during the week. Of course, I had to log into Facebook to respond to queries about t-shirt orders I was taking, but while I was in, I didn’t allow myself to read the news feed, the thing that sucks you into a black hole filled with Langoliers ready to eat your face off. I did tweet once and post a picture on Instagram. But I only allowed myself to briefly interact with those two platforms.
But, the real freedom came yesterday in an unexpected dose of two hours. Notorious for neurotically checking to make sure I have all needed items before leaving the house, I somehow managed to take my daughter to gymnastics and left my phone at home. The amazing thing is, I didn’t even notice it wasn’t with me until I went to dial up my husband.
My immediate reaction was to wave my white flag and head home. I reasoned I could run errands another day, a day in which I was armed with my smartphone. But, that’s when I understood the dark controlling power our phones have over us. After thirty seconds of pros and cons, I decided to be rebellious and run my errands. So, off I went, and there was a strange freedom in driving around knowing no one could get a hold of me for as long as I was out. It was a blast back to the 1990s.
Of course, my first thought was that I should at least call Brent from a pay phone to let him know not to worry if I didn’t pick up my cell. But, apparently, the pay phone business died some years ago. So I went to three stores untied to the constraints of time. Every time someone else’s phone rang or sang a notification, I didn’t have the impulse to check my own phone. It was completely FREEING!
On my way home after a blissful two hours, I wondered if I would find Brent’s car in the driveway. He would be frantically searching with the police to find his lost wife. I would have a cell phone with 31 missed calls, and I was never going to hear the end of it.
Instead, I got home, checked my phone and noticed I had zero calls and zero text messages.
I love how convenient our phones make life. On a typical day, I would have been able to call my husband, check my bank account, and browse product reviews before purchasing an item. Those are definitely pros of the digital world. But, there’s always a tradeoff. When we make our phones an irreplaceable necessity, it has the ability to rule over us like a dictator. How crazy is it that some of us feel completely helpless without one?
I know, as with most things, moderation is the key, and our phones are only as important as we make them. But, man, do I long for the days when I was 20, running errands with my windows down and music up, not a care or distraction in the world.
I think more than anything, it’s important to be cognizant of when it’s time to step away and detox. Perhaps the real trouble lurks when we fail to notice it’s becoming a problem.
And, if you’re down for a smartphone free 2018, let me know. I might just be ready to jump in!