I am pretty sure I have some sort of phone addiction. I’m not kidding.
I’ve been on a quest for simplicity and minimalism in my life for the last year or so, and although I am getting there slowly but surely, online stuff is really my kryptonite. (That and all the hoards of beauty crap I’ve accumulated over the last 20 years of being female.)
A few days ago, though, I walked to school and realized I had left my phone at home. Immediately, I experienced a wave of panic as I reached into my pocket and remembered I had left it sitting on my desk. This really threw me, because even though I know everyone is addicted to phones to an extent, I’m starting to get a bit disappointed in how much I am.
No, I don’t think that phones are bad. But the problem is that with our cell phones we aren’t actually communicating with each other--we’re texting, where our conversations aren’t any more than just relaying our schedules for that day, and the typical “what’s up”, “not much” conversation.
The more I’ve gotten reliant on texting and chatting and the like, I’ve noticed that my friendships lack depth, and actually start feeling like a bit of a burden because I always feel like I should be talking to them, even if I’m doing something else. Since I’m a super busy senior in university, I just don’t have the time or emotional energy for “fake” communication, so I’m really making efforts to, well, stop.
Now I know that I’m not the only one who feels this way. I’m sure you can sympathize with my frustration. So I’ve decided to start being more mindful of how I use my phone for communication, and want to challenge you to do the same!
I’m not going to go and do a “2-week phone fast” or anything like that. I don’t think that fixes the problem–I think it can shine light on a potential area for improvement, but it doesn’t actually change anything. That’s like someone who is trying to lose weight going on a week-long fast from eating out. That changes your life for a week, but you go back to normal right after.
So I’m making a lifestyle change. And here are some of my ideas:
1. Text less, talk more
If you’re going to have a 2-hour texting conversation while you’re sitting at home watching Community re-runs, why not just dial their number and call them for 30 minutes? Actually talk for once!
2. Use texting to facilitate real conversation
I’m not turning into one of those people who thinks that texting is evil, or that it’s making my life terrible or anything. I think it’s a great tool, but we just get sucked into using it to replace human contact. So when you text someone, text them to make lunch plans, or see if they’re free to hang out or study.
3. Write letters
I know this may seem a bit old-fashioned, but there’s nothing nicer than getting a surprise letter in the mail from a family member or friend. At least, that’s true for me. So I’m going to start collecting mailing addresses and start writing more letters. The thing about writing letters versus texting is that you sit down and write a note that has actual content, because you’re not expecting an immediate response. I always found that when I was writing letters I got to know a person so much more than just chatting with them on Facebook. It doesn’t have to be long, either–just leaving notes for your roommates or boyfriend to find is great, too!
4. Turn off the phone
One of the things I hate the most is when people are on their phones when we’re talking. But, if I’m honest with myself, I do that too! It’s terrible! So when I’m hanging out with people, on a date, at a meeting, the like, I’m turning off my phone. Not silent. Off. Just try it. It’s exhilarating.
5. Use your phone for something else
I find that often when I’m on the bus going to school I just scroll through twitter or facebook feeds. Which really isn’t that interesting, and I have no reason to do if I’m honest with myself. It’s very rare that people actually post anything intriguing on facebook, but I just scroll through anyway.
So find some other use for your phone. What I’ve started doing is using quizlet to create flashcards for my classes and I just go through flashcards on the bus or when I’m walking to and from class! I also create grocery lists and do meal planning on my phone, so that my time is productive.
So that’s what I’m doing. What do you think you need to change? Are you overly attached to your phone, to technology in general? Or are you using it as a tool?
I’d love to hear your feedback! Let me know if you’re going to try any of my challenges!