Put the phone down. It will be there when you get back. Be present and attentive to your surroundings, live your life, it will never be the same.
Imagine that it’s silent, calm, peaceful, and oddly satisfying. Nothing in your world matters and nothing can stop you from feeling this sense of peaceful bliss. All of a sudden, somewhere echoing in the back of your mind is a sound, it’s faint and not yet distinguishable. Oddly enough, it seems familiar, but it is ripping you from your priceless, peaceful moment. The faint echo grows and intensifies until you have no choice but to come to your senses and look around.
You realize the kids are running around and terrorizing the house. Your spouse is yelling for you to get out of your chair and help round the kids up for bed. You spring to action, frustrated, annoyed, but ready to lend a helping hand. You wonder how it got so out of control this evening. Why is my spouse so frustrated?
To you, the answer may be your spouse’s inability to handle the kids by themselves, or maybe your kids weren’t being good listeners. The truth is your spouse did everything they could and did the best they can and your kids were being kids and were having a great time. The truth of the matter is that for however long, you checked out. You checked out of our life and entered your mind into the endless world of the Internet.
It’s Easy to Put the Phone Down, Right?
The answer to this question depends on who you are as a person, but for the general public, it truly isn’t easy to walk away from your phone. Have you ever misplaced your device and felt like a limb had been removed from your body until you found your device? This phenomenon is referred to as phantom limb syndrome. It was originally used to describe amputees who felt the sensation of their limbs when they were actually missing them. Today, this is a common sensation among smartphone users and shows just how far out of reach society has come.
Ask yourself this question, how often do you check your phone a day? According to research firm dscout, on average people tapped, swiped, and clicked 2,617 times each day and engaged in 76 separate phone sessions a day. It is even worse for the top 10% of users, these users actually touch their phones 5,427 times a day and average 132 sessions a day. The average user spends about 2.42 hours a day on their phone and those heavy users clock 3.75 hours a day. If you are interested, you can read more from dscout.
Nature’s Drug of Choice Has You
Every person possesses a type of neurotransmitter called Dopamine, it is made inside your body and your nervous system uses it to send messages between nerve cells. Dopamine directly plays a role in how we feel pleasure and what motivates us. Whenever you eat something amazing, exercise, or even have a successful social interaction, your body releases a hit of this wonder drug. It sends a clear message to your nervous system that whatever you just did felt great and you should keep doing it.
This amazing sensation is very addictive and it is entirely possible to become a dopamine junkie. This is exactly what every smartphone maker, operating system creator, and social media company is hoping for. As you use these devices, your brain gets overloaded. Every Facebook message, tweet, Instagram post, Email, Pinterest notification, and all notifications like these trigger a sense of excitement. Your body senses this excitement and gives you a hit of dopamine to continue. This dopamine hit keeps you engaged and the loop begins.
Content creators use these types of tricks so they can keep you completely engaged in their content. Giving you the ability to connect with people from your present life and with people you may have lost touch with is an incredible thing. I don’t use a lot of social media, but I can easily get sucked into YouTube.
Upon loading the app, I am greeted with a carefully curated list of videos the app thinks I might want to watch. I inevitably find something, turn my phone horizontally (which takes up the entire screen, including the clock) and start watching. I tell myself it will only be one video, but then 2, 3, 4, or even 5 videos later and I realize that I fell into the black hole that is YouTube. Social media, cell phones, and YouTube are not necessarily bad things. They can be wonderful if their usage is limited and intentional.
Don’t Let Your Phone Dictate Your Life
Now that you know just how your phone grabs your attention, it’s time to put the phone down. You only have 1 life to live, do you really want to spend it looking at your phone for 3 hours a day? An average screen time of 3 hours a day will become 1,095 hours by the end of the year. Almost 1,100 hours of your life each year, gone. Think about those numbers the next time you find yourself saying you don’t have the time to do this or that.
Our cell phone addiction can have long-lasting ramifications. Those relationships that you have so carefully cultivated on social media, are great and bring you so much happiness, right? They fill your life with joy and you put just as much time into talking to your spouse and kids? You put just as much time into cultivating those relationships, along with your relationships with extended family, friends, and colleagues?
Odds are, it’s easy to dismiss the needs of those around us and take them for granted. The issue is that while your digital relationships may be flourishing, there is also a good chance that your real-life relationships may be suffering. When was the last time you put your phone down and gave your children your undivided attention? When was the last time you laid in bed with your spouse and just talked, with no distractions? There are a million beautiful moments that you could be missing out on every year.
Life is short. In the grand scheme of things living for 70, 80, 90 or even 100 years isn’t that long. How often do you find yourself saying that week, month, or year has flown by? If you aren’t intentional with your choices and how you spend your time, you can miss some of the best aspects of life.
Put down the device and be present. The relationships that can be sculpted and created can bloom into the most beautiful part of your life. Your social media interactions can take a back seat. Your random connections, old flames, past friends, and previous colleagues are not truly that important to you. Your current family, kids, friends, and colleagues deserve your attention. Be mindful and show those around you how to be present. Hold yourself and your family accountable. Don’t let time slip by, be intentional and enjoy your life.