Start Turning Your Phone Off!
When I was thinking about the post title I was wondering how I could convey the importance of our time! Our phone’s are “stealing” it from us and along with it our curiosity of the world.
Remember the times when you haven’t had your phone, when you thought of something and you couldn’t just look up the answer, you had to speak to someone, or find something to point you in the right direction. That curious part of you was activated just a little and, sadly for us, it is being activated even less today.
It is time to start turning your phone off at night, and leaving it at home for the day, and get back your curiosity. So you miss a phone call – it will be there later on. You miss and important email – not a problem, you will get to it, and if you don’t, it wasn’t important.
The ultimate excuse is, “But what if I miss an emergency?” What if you do? Life will go on, you will still have to face the emergency at some point, and life will still go on afterwards too!
It’s Such a Perfect Day…
A song I think that illustrates the necessity of putting the mobile phone aside for a short while was written by Lou Reed in 1972, before mobile’s were even invented. In Perfect Day, Lou Reed begins by talking about being in the park and going home. He talks about the zoo and movies, and he talks about hanging on. You can listen to the track on YouTube – Perfect Day by Lou Reed – even if it is a little slow.
I am aware that the song may have other connotations, but it is the sentiment that I want to take from it. That need and want that consumes your full attention and leads you on little flights of fancy. In a few verses he has been and done a few things some of us have forgotten to do in a long time. Talk to someone else in the flesh!
If you are going to have a night out on the town with your mates or partner/wife, leave the phone at home and make it a “Perfect Night”. Don’t worry that you cannot call the taxi at a drop of a hat, don’t let any discussions be shut down because you can search for an “appropriate” response online. Who cares that there is no music and that you may need to actually talk.
Mobiles Aren’t Bad – Holding onto them all day is!
I don’t want to sound like a technophobe here! Of course I have a mobile, computer and feel rather confident around them. It is the time that they steal from me that I want to note down.
It is so easy to contact anyone at anytime. I can receive a message from a friend and no matter whether I am on the toilet, in the middle of some writing or making dinner I can stop what I am doing and read it, and then respond to it. What I am not always aware of is how much time it took from me!
There was a study done a while ago about people being so afraid to let go of their mobile phone that they would sleep with it IN their bed – like a comforter! Have we got that attached to something so quickly in a number of years that we even give up our precious sleep for it?
It is that noticeable now that a phobia is even named after it – Nomophobia. Alright so you are thinking to yourself, but that isn’t me! I put it on the bedside at night, and besides it is charging while I sleep.
Turn it off then! Better still, why not charge it before you go to bed, and save it charging all night, long after it is fully charged!
I’m Glad I Spent it with You
As the Lou Reed continues, he sings “I’m glad I spent it with you”! I think this is really the crucks of the matter here. The mobile phone is a device, and it is common knowledge today that as multitaskers, we are not efficient in doing anything at 100%. But then you knew that right!
I cannot focus on my driving, listen to the radio and have a conversation and maintain 100% of my concentration on each – that is illogical. I may give 100% to my driving for a microsecond, the radio a microsecond, and the conversation a microsecond in a continuous loop, but if I was to split it down as an average, each would only have 33.3% of my attention at any one time.
Sounds scary doesn’t it. That doesn’t even include the time I am taking to blink and my eyes are not even open looking at the road for a microsecond!
Why then do I think I can fully concentrate on someone when my phone is so close at hand? I can’t! We all want to be listened too, and we want to take part in the conversation, but to be only part of a conversation, while the other part is being shared with a phone, makes everyone feel a little uncared-for.
It really is amazing to me that someone can visit and within a few minutes they are looking at their phone reading a status update or texting, and trying to have a conversation with me at the same time. Then waste our time asking me to repeat what I said. (Of course it could be my monotone voice and boring conversation too…)
Enjoy every moment with the people you are with, they are there for just a short time and if they make you feel so wonderful that you took the time to go out with them or visit them, then enjoy and cherish it. The phone will still be at home later on for you to “fill” in your time.
These fleeting personal meetings are rare in a modern society. They flash past so quickly, and we wonder at the end of an evening how the time passed so fast. Take the time to spend the seconds engaged and laughing or in discussion, or perhaps just watching a sunset/movie in the company of someone else!
Problems all left alone
Lou Reed continues in the next verse where he sings, “Problems all left alone”. It is a great feeling when that happens. Where you lose yourself in a moment and everything melts away.
Who wants to know that Vicky tripped over the dog and now has a cute photo of the cat she just found, while you are walking up a street to get a meal. You earned the money to go out and it took time from your life to get it, now enjoy spending that money in the real and present moment you live in.
All those pointless emails that keep coming to your inbox notifying you of the latest sale or voucher you can use at your local supermarket, or that some website has a better offer on your car insurance. Who cares – you are out, so leave it alone!
You’re going to reap just what you sow
Lou ends his song with those words – “You’re going to reap just what you sow”. Evidently this refers to a farming practice of planting, say wheat seed, and getting wheat to grow and not apples, and it may have been use in a Biblical context in the past, but here it is important.
If you spend only part of your time with someone who wants to spend all their time with you when they are physically with you, you will eventually reap just that – only part of their attention later on.
If you invest in spending time looking at a screen to find out what is happening, you will only reap the loss of not seeing the amazing scenery that surrounds you on a walk or sitting having a coffee in a coffee shop.
We are not babies, holding onto a mobile for comfort. It is a tool, a very useful tool, that should be used appropriately. As we grow up with them more and more, so we now should realise that having a mobile is the same as any other object we have, we need to use it in moderation.
Try it tonight, switch it off from 8pm and only turn it back on AFTER your shower in the morning. If the thought of turning your phone off scares you – I think you need a little look at how much time it is stealing from your life!
Some further thoughts:
- Set your phone up to block all, but important calls between certain times. For example – between 8pm and 7am no emails, messages or calls can be received unless you pre-approve the number/email.
- Turn off automatic email fetch. Use the manual setting and you take control when you receive your emails.
- Turn off all social media notifications, only check the notifications when you enter the app itself.
- If you are obsessed by the little blue light flashing, turn that off too. Why should the little light determine when you look at your phone or not.
- It has an off switch – Use it. Look up and see the world around you and not the magical pixelated fantasy of the screen!
Enjoy your night, and if you are doing this already or have any tips for me to get the most out of my phone while still enjoying the world and people around me, then get in touch.