-Jamiroquai, “Virtual Insanity”
As we talking about truly unplugging this month, we need to address our phone obsession. Or at least, I know I do. I think it’s possible that I have a phone, social media, and/or internet addiction.
Why have I allowed this? Is it fear of missing out? Is it fear of irrelevance? Is it a desire for validation or connection? Or is it simply a way of sharing life that I have let brainwash me and become an actual part of life? Or is it just, simply, a habit?
The other day, I paid close attention to how much I looked at my phone and at social media. (I often marvel at my children and their lack of need for it. So wonderful.) On this particular day, I was checking something or other, or thinking that I needed to post for RY or whatever it was, and I thought to myself: What if social media continues for the rest of my life? And, I mean, honestly, why wouldn’t it? And we know that emails will, right? It’s odd, though; as hard as it can be sometimes for me to remember what life was like without these things, I come from a time wherein I know that most things eventually end, or, at least, move on or morph into something different. And this all likely will, too. But what if it becomes even more and more entrenched in our psyches? What if it morphs and moves into more?
If that is to be case, we are quite likely looking at lifelong use and possibly addiction. I started to think seriously about what it might mean to be old, be dying even, and still looking at social media, say, 40 years from now. I thought about the example I set, and what if my own children or caregivers were distracted and not connecting with me. I thought about the many years ahead in life (hopefully) and the hours and hours I might spend (or waste, rather) scrolling through feeds of people I don’t even really know. And I found this: A study by MobileInsurance.com revealed that the average person spends 90 minutes a day on their phone. That adds up to- get ready- 23 days per year and 3.9 years of the average person’s life. Yeesh!
Yes, there are newspapers and magazines and other things that have always taken our attention and always will. But something about the absorption of social media, emails, a screen, and the ability to look for or research absolutely anything I can dream up or desire seems different. There’s also a validation cycle locked within social media that is dangerous and can fool you into thinking that you’re really accomplishing something.
I am not saying that all of this is useless. I had a friend who passed away not long ago, and his social media posts gave him a strength of community, and kept us all informed and connected and gave us a way to reach out. It was a wonderful thing. And as this week’s podcast guest Flip Solomon points out, the ability to increase knowledge and connect with literally anyone in the world is an amazing thing. So yes, we have to keep the value added… but the idea is to enhance reality, not take away from it.
Below, find some strategies that can we can implement in order to use our phones or computers in a more constructive manner. The idea is to always stay more plugged in to reality and to life… not this virtual
4 strategies to keep your virtual sanity (in a technologically drenched world):
- Set your timer. Anyone who reads my stuff regularly knows what a fan I am of the phone timer. Why not set a deadline for your Facebook, Twitter or HuffPo perusing? You’re a lot less likely to get involved in a heated political debate if you know you only have five minutes to spend.
- Put a watchdog app on your phone. There are apps specially made (like Checky and Moment) to give you the reality check you need: they’ll let you know just how many times a day you open your phone. There are ones with a map feature to let you know where and when you were doing this, too. In most cases, people think they spend a fraction of the time they really spend on their phones. Breakfree will even calculate your addiction score…..eeeek!
- Lose the fingerprint. The fingerprint opening feature is great…to open your phone quickly, of course. Perhaps an alternative to the extreme example of Louis CK’s method shared by Randi this month would be to make yourself work for it a little more. Having to punch in a code every time will make you more cognizant of how often you’re doing it.
- Create a check-in question, and answer it honestly. This means every time you go to check your email or phone, imagine it’s your child checking theirs. Or your partner. What would you tell them? To quit it? That they have checked enough? Or that they can do it later, to live in the moment, to not worry about it, because nothing is that important after a certain point. So your question might be: “What would I tell my daughter right now? I know I’d tell her to go cook something or just to put it down and read.” And there’s your answer.
We hope these help! What are a few of your tricks? Don’t forget to sign up for the RY newsletter to get even more exclusive content and to stay up-to-date with what’s happening!