We are certainly blessed (?) for living in an era in which communicating has never been easier, being our phones the tool that not only keeps us in touch with people but also offers us the possibility of doing pretty much everything: we buy things with our phones, we find our “prospective partners” in a matter of a swipe, we know what happens in the world minute by minute… let’s say they just keep us entertained.
We are so used to having our phones with us that many of us no longer remember how life was before having them around.
I had my first phone at the age of twelve when the latest technology was a color screen and if you wanted a cool ringtone, you had to pay for it. The whole idea of me getting a cellphone was a need for my mum to communicate with me in case I could get lost on my way to my new school (or at least that was what I was told), however the main use I would give it would be playing games and text my friends asking how they were.
I got my first smartphone at the age of 19 and it became part of my hand. I could reach anyone within the planet with an internet connection, I could take pictures and share them instantly with the world, I could search for places on my maps app, I could download apps for god’s sake! I no longer had a phone, I had a whole world in my hands.
I’m 26 now and I’ve been in a troubled relationship with my phone(s) for a long time now: I constantly believe it’s necessary for me to have it around (“I need it with me in case anything happens”, “I need it because I work with it”, “social media is an essential part of my work”) but when I got tired and ran out of excuses decided to give myself a break.
These are the things that happened this past week, when I decided to delete most of the apps from my phone and only use it as an mp3 player for Spotify or to listen to my daily meditation.
–I realized how uncomfortable it is to be around people who are just looking at their phones all the time. Literally! Just any moment of silence is a good excuse to pick up their phones and scroll.
-I enjoyed my time better IRL knowing that I didn’t have to share anything, talk to anyone through texts or take an aesthetically pleasing photo to post. It’s not that I don’t enjoy doing that, it’s that the more you do it, the more it loses the magic and fun.
–It’s easier to keep focus on one thing. These past few days have been really productive work wise and I have to believe that it is because I don’t have as many distractions as I do when there’s a whole world at the reach of my hand; I just have a laptop in front of me and whatever is there, stays there until I open it up again.
-My creativity is on fire. I haven’t been exposed to the work from other colleagues or people I follow online in the form of “feed”. If I need inspiration, I search for it in a book, I go for a walk or simply don’t search for it at all. It’s weird how these things work, but last night I woke up so full of ideas I needed to actually write them down before I could go back to sleep. Could it be that I’m not consuming content as much so I have a lot of time and space in my head for ideas to develop itself?
–I don’t know what’s going on and I don’t really care. It’s simply not essential. Most of the time I think that I have to be active in certain apps in order for people to remember that I exist when there are times I’m there without actually wanting to be there. Truth be told, I haven’t missed not knowing about people’s lives and I think there are times people are better off by not getting distracted from their lives with meaningless food stories I could share. The less I know, the better.
To conclude with this little yet meaningful post (inspired by my recent read “Notes on a Nervous Planet” by Matt Haig) I want to tell you that it’s not only productive but also fun to take digital breaks and come back with a different perspective of how we use our tools. I could find the mental space to start working on projects I had on stand by for ages, reduced my levels of anxiety (not 100% but notably), created longer and more slow content for platforms like this website and my youtube channel, and even did nothing! Do you know how hard that is? Haha!
So I invite you to do the same experiments and see what happens. Have you done it before? Let me know in the comments!