Put Down the Phone
On a recent trip to New York, I noticed something quite strange happening pretty much everywhere: there were hoards of people dining together, hanging out and having a good time but every single one of them was playing around on their mobile phone. They weren't interacting with the people in front of them but instead on Instagram, Snapchat and conversing with those outside of the group they were with. Are we missing out on our lives because we are constantly connected to our phones?
I am the first to admit that I'm a bit in love with my Instagram. My group of friends frequently joke if it's not on Instagram did it even happen? I'm still of the generation though of where you snap your pic and then put the phone away. I've tried to be more present in my life in recent years and have attempted not to get tied up on my phone when I'm with other people, or even when I'm just watching TV. I want to be in the moment and enjoy what I'm doing not trying to juggle three things at once. I recently noticed I might have a problem with this when I was watching a TV show and honestly had no idea where the plot of the show was because I was playing around on my iPad checking out things online. It was a bit of a wakeup call, to be honest. Do I need to be that connected to everyone and everything ALL OF THE TIME? Of course not! Everyone always talks about how freeing it is to turn off notifications while on vacation so why don't we do this every day?
As we have become increasingly connected in our lives taking digital breaks has become increasingly important. The steady increase of laptop-free coffee shops and meditation studios is a sign that people are ready for this in their lives; they want to be slightly less digital without completely going off the grid. I recently ran a mini-experiment on myself where I left my mobile phone at home for the day. I know my city reasonably well, and aside from my annoyance of having to carry my credit card (I'm a believer in Apple Pay), it felt nice. I ran some errands, got a few things done and wasn't regularly checking my various feeds, text messages or email. It reminded me of being a teenager and not always worrying if I missed that important email or didn't immediately respond to a text message from a friend. I had an excuse: I forgot my phone.
I've been slowly but surely incorporating "internet free" time into my life and I feel like my thoughts are more precise and more put together than ever before. I've put some strategical rules into my everyday life for screen time similar to how you would with a child. No phones before bed, no email first thing in the morning and now when I'm in line for coffee I'm no longer anxiously going through my inbox trying to reach the mythical inbox 0. Instead, I'm merely waiting. I've begun feeling more connected with my life, and in return, my relationships have improved. Being the only one not on their device forces those around you to put down theirs as well, and while I still will always snap my photo of those tacos for the gram, I'm not going to post it until much later.