It’s great to be connected. But to be a phone addict? Not so great.
After one too many nights spent alongside my partner where we were both on our phones in ‘scrolly-scroll’ mode, I knew it was time for an overhaul.
I’ve written before about the power I’d yielded to Facebook, and how losing my iPhone made me get a life, but a year later my relationship with the device remains problematic. My experience with technology is that it makes a wonderful slave, but a terrible master. My most recent wake-up call came courtesy of my eight-year-old when she exclaimed: “You are always on the phone!!”
But it gets worse. When I started critically analysing my personal usage, it didn’t take me long to see how my partner also tended to be over-tethered. I realised on some evenings, we’d barely say two words to another. Unsurprisingly, this resulted in disengagement between us.
Before addressing this, however, I needed to exert willpower over my situation first. Here’s what I did.
Put the iPhone to ‘bed’
Before, I could spend entire evenings attached to a device, especially to social media, which is designed to make it hard to put down the phone. Now, half an hour after the kids are asleep, I take the phone to the kitchen and plug it in overnight. This gives me a brief window of time online, but also puts a firm deadline on when that window closes.
Went from digital to analogue
With the phone safely in another room, I get stuck into a book. A physical thing with pages and everything. I used to love reading but since becoming an iPhone addict would devote no attention to books. Sticking with the boring bits, following a story from A to B, engaging with the author … all of these are skills the online world doesn’t cultivate. I’m loving flexing my reading muscle again.
Got an old school alarm clock
For years I’d use the phone as an alarm, which means I’d sleep with it beside the bed (along with 62% of survey respondents). This meant time on the phone would begin from the moment I opened my eyes.
I decided to stop being okay with that.
The purchase of an old school alarm clock was a game changer. Because I love me a bit of cognitive dissonance, I shared my pledge to get the iPhone out of the bedroom* on Facebook under the hashtag #lessscreentime and a friend remarked:
“I just read your post after my iPhone alarm clock has gone off! I picked up my phone & checked FB which is pretty standard. The thought even went through my mind, “I don’t think that this is the best thing to do upon waking”. I need to buy an alarm clock!”
Yes, you do, my friend, yes you do.
Turned into a judgemental ratbag
Fuelled by the righteous zest of a born again, I’d make snipy comments to Johnno like “haven’t you finished the internet yet?” or call him Gollum and the phone ‘The Precious’. Then one night I snatched his phone and hid it, and forced him to play backgammon. Nowadays he’s on board with the ‘phone in the kitchen from 8pm’ idea, but it took a conscious effort to break the habit. It probably helps that he’s really good at backgammon.
Notwithstanding the tone of this piece, I think it’s incredibly important to talk about the way we use technology. I find myself wondering that just because we can, it doesn’t mean we should. I have broken a FS hiatus to add my voice to the many articles I’ve noticed popping up (online of course!) on this topic. I’d love to think as a society we are mature enough to collectively explore how to be technology’s master and not its servant.
Do you have a healthy relationship with technology? Tell me about it and I’ll come down from my high horse to have a read.
*Also phones in the bathroom? ALL THE NO’S!