This past week I had a wake up call with regards to my cell phone usage. First my 14 month old daughter banged her head while I was responding to an “urgent” text (when you’re a parent, the only really urgent things are your child’s safety and well-being, but sometimes I try to do too many things at once—as per this post, I’m working on it!)
Later that evening, I went on Facebook to post some photos of said precious daughter and it led to a moment of tension between my husband and me, since I was so immersed in social media-ville, I couldn’t respond to what he was asking me to do.
Each time, my black-and-white thinking got the best of me, and I felt really bad about failing as a mother, as a wife. Later on we discussed it again in a calmer context and my husband suggested that rather than ban social media entirely, I just had to designate certain opportune times for it.
The next morning—having realized what a strong hold my cell phone has on me, both with regards to it’s basic texting function, as well as it’s smart abilities—I decided to not use my cell phone at all when I was at work. Aside from checking it every hour or so to make sure there were no emergencies, I put it away in a cupboard—out of sight, out of mind!
A couple of times I had to notify my husband of something. I resisted the urge to grab my phone, and I went to the landline phone in the room and called him and left a voicemail. It was a slower process, but I wanted a break from the instantly gratifying, addictive nature of my cell phone.
After only the first morning of my cell phone cleanse, I had the following observations:
1- I am super addicted to blue light—the screen on my smartphone.
2-Even seeing a reminder pop up on my phone, much less a text, triggers a pleasure response (dopamine).
3-Limiting my overall usage and reliance on my cell phone, mitigates the feelings of urgency that I feel when I want to text someone of take a photo of something. For example, when I went for a walk during my lunch break, that feeling that I simply had to take a video of the rhythmic chirping of the birds in the trees was duller that it would have been had I been attached to my phone all day. And yes, I do think my phone has become an appendage. And in a similar vein, when I am used to using my phone all the time and find myself without it, I experience a sort of “phantom pain”—I feel as if my phone should be there, and I am incomplete without it.
4-When I was less attached to my cell phone, I felt less anxious about unresolved questions throughout my day. I am so used to the visual confirmation of texts and emails. Being a visual thinker, I think I am even more prone to relying on visual information, and my smart phone furthers this tendency of mine!
Bottom line: I want to be more in control of my cell phone usage, instead of being driven by feelings of urgency and impulsivity. I think life is about attaining wisdom and maturity, and I see my smartphone usage as bringing out the worst in me at times. I’d like to tap into my deeper, wiser reserves—a more present, patient self—and I think that being more conscious and intentional about when I use my phone and when I do not will facilitate this.