06 Apr Unplugged: What I Learned After 24 Hours Without My Phone
For our anniversary last year, my husband took me on a date to the famous Strand bookstore in New York City. An avid book lover and reader, I thought this was the perfect date. I’d always wanted to visit the bookstore, but never managed to step foot inside, though I’d passed by many times.
As we arrived to the store, we browsed through the books on the carts outside the store before going in. Once inside, we eagerly perused through the floors of books, excited to be among so much knowledge. True nerds, huh!? We weren’t in the store more than three minutes before my husband came across the book How To Break Up With Your Phone. He turned to me and said “I’m getting this for you.” I thought, “Oh, I’m not that bad” but didn’t object to the purchase. I smiled and instead said, “Okay. I’ll read it and then give it to you to read.” He smirked before continuing our journey through the store.
Once home I set the book on my nightstand with hopes of starting it after finishing another book I was reading. Weeks had gone by and though I’d finished the other book, there was a lot of resistance to starting How To Break Up With Your Phone. Finally I decided to crack open the pages and see how I could relate to this book, if all. To my surprise, it changed my perspective on my relationship with my phone and did in fact reveal that we needed a break-up. In it the author, Catherine Price talks about the unhealthy patterns of behaviors that are forced due to our conditioning from the applications on our phones.
Also not to mention the diminishing effect on our eyesight that is caused by the blue light, our smart phones have proved to be more detrimental to our health and well-being than it has on actually making us smarter. It was obvious I needed to create some distance between me and phone, but how. The first step that Catherine suggests is a technology triage. This included a four-week outlined guide to breaking up with my phone. In it is the recommendation to download tracking apps (like Moment for iPhone and OFFTIME for Androids), deleting social apps, and a weekend triage separation. Price recommends a full 24-hour separation from your phone, which she suggests to do over a weekend. So after reading her book, I thought I’d be ready for the trial separation. I downloaded the tracker apps, deleted useless apps, and starting paying more attention to the amount of time I was spending on my phone. After downloading the tracker apps, usage of time spent on my phone decreased drastically. I was able to minimize the amount of time I was on it, just from knowing I was being tracked.
So after months had gone by and there were several failed attempts of the 24-hour triage. Whenever I thought about it turning my phone off completely, I experienced intense feelings of anxiety and being disconnected from my phone. I finally made the choice that I was going to do it. I decided Friday – Saturday afternoon would be the best time to shut my phone off, put it in my closet and didn’t return to it until the next day.
Here’s what I learned after 24 hours of being disconnected from my phone:
Out of Sight, Out of Mind: I turned my phone off, placed it in my bedroom closet on a shelf, and didn’t think about it AT ALL. I was more engaged in my waking life, presently engaging with my children, more active and aware of my experiences.
Improved Focus and awareness: I was actually more present and able to engage in the moment. I wasn’t thinking about messages or emails or social media posts. There was more time spent playing with my kids, laughing and enjoying the present moment more.
Less Anxious: What anxiety!? I was breathing, fully in my body, not thinking about what messages I didn’t respond to or what I could potentially be missing on social media. None of those things matter. All I was thinking about was more ways I could get more of these “free” moments, away from distractions once this triage was over.
Resourceful: Life without Google, I was forced to think about things that I hadn’t done on my own for a very long time. When my daughter asked ‘what’s the weather?’ I had to use my senses to come up with what I thought the temperature might be based on how it felt to me instead of having the weather app to reference. There were so many more moments like this and I thought wow, I really need to increase my capacity to think instead of relying on my phone so much. This will also help improve my working memory.
More meaningful/Productive Use of Phone: Once the triage was over and I turned on my phone, much after the 24 hours by the way, I wasn’t as eager to return to it. I wanted to maintain this sense of solace for a bit longer. I wanted to engage with my phone differently than I had previously. This created a sense of urgency to develop a more meaningful, productive strategy for using my phone. I continue to use the phone tracking, limit my use of certain apps until after noon, and minimize the amount of time I spent on social media. Creating this new relationship with my phone has created space for more opportunities of present moment awareness. For this I am grateful.