Imagine. You’re sat talking to someone, at home, work or the pub. You’re watching a movie or a TV show. You’re out for a walk or simply laid in bed. Your screen lights up or you feel the familiar vibration in your pocket. There’s a notification. Someone liked your latest Instagram post or retweeted you. Someone invited you to play Candy Crush on Facebook. A email, spam usually. Or a text from a friend or from work – non urgent; they’d have called, right?
Too often one of the above scenarios has occurred and I’ve instinctively checked my phone. 99% of the time that lit screen or vibration is an irrelevance. A ‘joke’ sent in group chat. A new follower from an account I don’t have anything in common with. Another email from Vue, eBay, Ryanair, Travelodge.
Why am I a slave to my mobile telephone? Granted, the mobile has become an essential life companion. It allows us to keep in touch with loved ones, check the news, access an almost infinite amount of information in a few clicks and capture moments in video or photo format. Want to know what the weather is like tomorrow? There’s a app for that. What’s on at the cinema? Check the app. Who won the big game? “I’ll just check.” The mobile/cell phone has many uses it is a tool for humanity to use to make life that little bit easier and pleasurable. But that’s the crux, isn’t it? It’s a tool for us to use; so why do I – and so many others – dance to it’s tune? Who determines what I do on a day to day or minute to minute basis? I do, or rather I should. Yet moments are interrupted and years of use has conditioned me/us to respond to the urgent appeals of a mobile device.
Your phone should be accessed when you need it. Your phone should not be accessing you when it needs you.
So a few days ago I turned off all notifications. Texts, gone. Whatsapp, finished. Email, ended. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, off. I left on telephone calls for emergencies. It’s liberating. I feel more in the moment and I have managed to sit through a show without the temptation of interruption. If I want to see what’s going on in the world I choose to do so rather than an inanimate object telling me it’s time to see what’s going on out there.
The end result is a boost to my mental well-being. I’m no longer drawn in to checking my social media accounts when my phone flashes. I’ve even – and this rarely happened before – forgotten where I put my phone! My screen time is down 21%. I’m using my phone less. And I haven’t missed anything. The emails still arrive. The text messages and ‘jokes’ in Whatsapp too. When someone likes my latest Facebook photo I still get to see who it was and I still get to see the comments. But I do it in my time when I want to and not at the say so of a piece of technology.