Leave your phone at home everyday; it could be the kind thing to do
Our smartphones have become a new organ, vital to our bodies and an incessant and seductive part of our life experience. In a recent visit to Munich, I biked past the mural, below, that really illustrates how smartphone screens have almost become a vicarious substitute for human interaction. There is no denying that they have become quite an addictive and distracting gadget in the past ten years since Steve Jobs announced the iPhone in 2007. But every day we tend to hear from our closest peers how these machines are stealing our attention from tasks, from time with friends, from time with family, from experiencing the wonders and moments of life that are more often becoming overlooked as we journey through our lives moment to precious moment. We are walking data trails leaving intentional hints of our behaviors with our fingertips. But does this screen staring syndrome nourish our lives toward the path of a life worth living?
I've become skeptical.
Since passing by that mural in Munich it triggered in me a series of questions regarding my relationship to digital life and my handheld machine. So much of this nascent smartphone universe is now related to our identity, to potential erroneous notions of our ego, and to our social and financial status. Recently, I got off social media and dating apps for five days. The data was revealing as I was spending up to 8 hours per week staring at these apps in search of what really? That's in the eye of the beholder, but I was alarmed that I was spending up to 7% of my wake time seeking connections and affirmations that I have better ways of validating in person or reaching to friends and family via phone and text.
So, I'm deciding to leave my phone at home and so could you.
Why not? Carry around a tablet or laptop as a substitute if you're an urban professional, it can work and, yes, you will be less connected for a change! Minimize screen time, maximize human contact time, but be connected to you. This notion of instantaneous and immediate connection to the digital world might distract us from the essence of a healthy and happy life, which is our connection to our truest selves, our clearest mind, and our purest heart. A mindful life is noticing what's happening while it is happening with friends, family, and the love we share for things and people in complete attention, awe, and reverence of their effect and presence on us. Smartphones may be eroding the quest for mindful living.
To be explicitly clear, I am not suggesting we get rid of ourselves of smartphones or digital lives altogether. You do you—in ways that nourish your life. I still use these digital tools. It's a simple a call to reflect that, maybe and just maybe, less often and in shorter amounts is a better use of these tools that obviously make our lives better. Leave the phone at home.
I, for one, believe that it will make us more kind, as every moment could fully have our most present and available selves.