About 8 months ago I became consciously aware of the fact that I treated my smartphone like a security blanket and that I hardly went anywhere without it – even if that meant going to a different room.
It didn’t matter where I was. I lived for the photo-op, I needed to be in constant communication with my friends, and I needed to have the reassurance that I could scroll through my social feeds so that I wouldn’t have to talk to anyone in the room if I didn’t feel like it. Some of my friends were just virtual, only leaving emojis on photos as stamps of approval on my latest updates.
When my boyfriend and I were doing the long distance thing, I spent that time glued to my phone. My life revolved around that piece of technology so that we could make plans of when we would talk or for when we finally got to see each other. For awhile after he came back, I was still super attached to my phone. It had become normal for me to be available to everyone that needed me and I fell into that pattern of being constantly on call. Having my phone had developed into a habit of being available 100% of the time. I did whatever I could for everyone else.
So there I was, looking at the back-lit screen of my smartphone, navigating my way through life with the swipe of my finger and living in someone else’s beautifully pictured and skillfully manufactured moment. When I finally looked up, I saw everyone else doing the exact same thing.
Having my phone with me made me feel connected and in control. I didn’t have to worry about missing anything my friends were posting about so I always felt up-to-date on their lives forgetting that I was looking at their highlight reel. I felt as if I stopped looking around. I stopped being a part of the conversation and I stopped putting myself out there. I acted as if I had my friends, they had me, and I didn’t want anything new.
It occurred to me when I actually looked up, when wasn’t I looking at my phone? Why was I always only giving a fraction of my attention to the person in front of me? My boyfriend was back, my close friends and I were in the same place (literally and figuratively) and we used technological means of communication to make plans. I didn’t need my phone to be in my face all the time. I was usually with the people I wanted to be with.
I put my phone down and the strangest thing happened. I became involved in the present and in the interactions that were unfolding in front of me. The compulsive need to check it faded and soon I wasn’t constantly picking it up when I was with someone.
When I went to beautiful places, I didn’t pull my phone out immediately to take pictures. I stopped going to things I didn’t want to go to and started going to things that I did, and I actively engaged. I watched the girls that looked miserable group together to take those “candid” laughing photos (“laugh like you’re having fun!”) and I watched them leave half an hour later. I stopped being like them. I stopped being at the beck and call of everyone in my life and I started taking time for myself.
I became relaxed, I was less stressed and I am happier. It was easier to prioritize, I spent my free time working on myself and cultivating the important relationships in my life.
I watched fireworks, I sat by a campfire, I looked at the stars and I lived without my smartphone. I started to feel the moment and the energy around me. I looked and really saw the people who surrounded me, I learned more about myself and more about others. I didn’t feel so much pressure.
I captured moments in photos instead of trying to capture everyone’s best angles; I made memories instead of staging them. I put my phone down, I left it behind, I turned it off, and I let the world slow down.
There is nothing wrong with liking social media and posting pictures of you and your friends. That is the world we live in now. We just can’t get caught up in living on social media. There is so much more life outside of it.
We live in a digital age. We have never been more connected. We have access to more information than ever before and we have never been so dependent on a piece of technology. Our smartphones have become an extension of our hands, but sometimes we need to power down. Here is your “ah-ha!” moment, the moment you realize that every minute of your life doesn’t need to be documented or relayed to your online fan-base. Learn, grow and achieve, make time for yourself and go off the grid every once in a while.
Turn off your damn phone and live a little.
Feature image via Nia Nee