I've discovered I have a problem. A big problem. I'm stepping away from those I love and those around me, in favour of a fleeting hit of the virtual world. I'm addicted to my phone.
If you are spending more time thinking about what you're going to say to entertain random strangers (or 'friends' or followers) than actually talking to your real friends, then I suggest you do to.
As a result, I've decided to actively try to limit my online time - I'm trying to reduce my time on social media by limiting how often I look at it (3 set times a day) and leaving my phone in another room for periods of the day, or when in a social setting. I have noticed a negative impact on my relationships and concentration and I want that to change. I want to tune into my real world and the people actually around me.
Freakonomics podcast (if you don't already listen to them, get them on your playlist now!) and the fabulous Aziz Ansari basically summed it up perfectly "all that shit people email you about all the time, all day, none of it is important. None of it is pressing. And if you just focus on the work you’re doing instead of focusing on it for like two minutes and then getting distracted to answer some question that isn’t pressing at all, you do a worse job...So I’d love to just throw out, if I could throw out the Internet as well, that’d be great. I never read anything. I’ve never read all these novels that are like these beautiful stories that have continued to have a resonance with people for so many generations...But instead, I choose not to read them. And I just read the Internet. Constantly. And hear about who said a racial slur or look at a photo of what Ludacris did last weekend. You know, just useless stuff. It’s like, I read the Internet so much I feel like I’m on page a million of the worst book ever. And I just won’t stop reading it. For some reason it’s so addictive.... I’ll say, the times where I haven’t read that stuff, the stuff that I normally read on the Internet, just nonsense blogs or whatever, the next day I’ve felt like I’ve missed nothing. You know? I deleted Twitter and Instagram off my phone. I mean I use them to like post stuff but I don’t have them on my phone. I don’t have, like, a feed. I don’t follow anyone. And I used to read that stuff a lot. And now I don’t read it. I don’t see those pictures. And I don’t miss it. And I feel like a lot of people do a lot of this stuff. And if they cut it out I don’t think they’d miss it that much. I really don’t. I mean when I don’t check in on those blogs and stuff, if I miss it I don’t go back and, like, if you don’t read [a] blog for a week,...you don’t go back and read Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. Cause you’re not reading it for the information. What you’re reading it for, and this is just my personal theories about this stuff, what you’re reading it for is a hit of this drug called the Internet. The phone world. You just want a hit of it. Like when you scroll down and you see a new blog post you’re like oooh! That gets your brain excited. It’s like, oooh! There’s something new! And you click it and you read it and you’re like, oooh, but it’s garbage. It’s nothing. Like ok, alright. Somebody dropped an N-bomb. Great. Alright. I mean that is kind of a cool story, but, but you’re just searching for this new thing. When you look on your Facebook feed and you see these pictures it’s like, none of that shit really matters. You just want to see a new thing on there and it just gives you something to do. I’ve sat at my computer. I still do it. And I go on like Facebook or whatever and I’m like, what am I doing? I’m going on a loop with these same four sites for no reason. I’m not genuinely interested. Like, here’s a test, OK. Take, like, your nightly or morning browse of the Internet, right? Your Facebook feed, Instagram feed, Twitter, whatever. OK if someone every morning was like, I’m gonna print this and give you a bound copy of all this stuff you read so you don’t have to use the Internet. You can just get a bound copy of it. Would you read that book? No! You’d be like, this book sucks...It’s not that interesting."
The fact is, it's not really the information that's addictive, it's the checking for the 'latest hit' or the attention. So as I've found, the easiest way to limit the time spent in the phone world, is to take the phone away. If we're at home, it's in another room. If we're out, it's for checking with the babysitter only. Otherwise, the FB or twitter checking is for when I'm in a queue, or on the bus. One quick visit in the morning, and one before bed. Ansari agrees "if I go to dinner and I don’t have my phone, I don’t miss those moments of looking at my phone. But if I have my phone with me I want to look at it because it’s drug-like. You want to check it and just see what’s going on. And anytime there’s a lull in the conversation, our attention spans are so short you just have to look at it. But I don’t like that I have to look at it. I don’t like that I’m that compulsively addicted to checking my phone or the Internet. I definitely don’t like that. So it’s, you know, I’ve found the way to fight this kind of addiction is to kind of take the phones or whatever out of the equation. And then you end up being able to kind of resist it. And then you forget about it and your mind’s at ease."
I'm embarrassed to admit that what prompted this for me was my attention span (and not the fact I was ignoring the kids and my partner - shame on me but I never profess to be perfect) - I noticed it was harder for me to focus on reading books. My mind would start to wander midway through a chapter and I'd pick up my phone for a bit, then suddenly half an hour later, I'd still be on the phone. So now the phone goes in another room.
Interestingly, I have noticed others looking at their phones in restaurants or even dinner parties - there's nothing pressing. It's rude. That's all there is too it. I'm not judging because I'm still a work in progress, but I am taking a step in the right direction.
Do you rely on your phone world a little more than you should?
Linking with #MummyMondays
(PS I'm sorry that's such a huge cut & paste but I think he really nailed it. He has just written a non-fiction book on Modern Romance so I'm hoping this shameless plug of his new book will help him forgive me)
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons:Aziz Ansari, Peabody Awards