Uzi Peretz decided to make some changes after realizing he had an unhealthy attachment to his cell phone.
Anyone else notice that most of us have an extremely unhealthy attachment to our cell phones? I’ve recently taken up watching people in an effort to better understand why we are so obsessed and what (if anything) we can do about it. What I’ve really decided is that one day I’d like to move to a town that still has a pay phone – just for nostalgia’s sake though. Call me old fashioned or just plan old but I remember enjoying people who wanted to enjoy me; instead of us all being consumed with our online statuses.
I’ve been wondering why I’d be at someone’s party then suddenly realize the last 15 minutes were spent facebooking, texting or reddit-ing (is that even a thing?). I caught myself doing this just a few weeks ago in fact. When I finally came up for air, I looked around the room, noticed I was alone and set out to find the hosts. My intention was to apologize for my distracted behavior and turn my phone off. When I finally found them, they were both sitting outside with another group of people and guess what? Everyone was on their phones too! I said “well thanks for inviting us all over so we can show all the people who aren’t here how much fun we’re having” Then I snapped a photo, used the low-fi filter and put it on Instagram. I’m kidding. We did have a good laugh about it and in the midst of that laughter, I decided it was time to make some changes. I apologized for being distracted, explained my “ah-hah” moment and turned off my phone. In fact, several other people agreed to turn theirs off as well. It was a pretty powerful few moments as all the phones flickered off and the conversation started flowing again. I’d like to see us all get back to the days when we actively spend time with our friends and loved ones instead of passively sharing the same space. Remember when eye contact and a smile was more common than a judgemental “excuse me”?
As I was saying, I decided to make some behavioral modifications after the experience at the party. I’m now far enough along in this experiment to say it’s been quite a successful one. I’ve even asked some friends to participate as well. So far – so good.
Here are a few suggestions to support the idea of being in the present moment; instead of being distracted by technology and social media.
Turn it Off
This one seems easy enough. Of course, there are all kinds of signs out there to remind us to do what should really come naturally. From the cute and quirky animations at the movie theatre to a handwritten note at the doctors office; everyone seems to want a little bit of our undivided attention. If you think about it that way, it’s really kind of a compliment. If you have never thought to yourself, “I can’t believe this person is on their cell phone right now” then it is probably because you’re on yours all the time. Most of us are guilty of being both the judge and the accused. Life is funny that way isn’t it? We condemn others for doing the same things we do. Try turning off your cell phone next time you host a party or attend a gathering. Even if it’s just a small, intimate get together with friends – turn it off and pay attention to how you feel about it. What you find out about yourself and your friends may surprise you.
Make a Bin
Whenever you entertain, it’s a good idea to take everyone’s car keys and put them in a bin by the door. Then you can monitor each person before they leave. Trust me, it doesn’t feel very good when you could have stopped someone from driving home drunk and they end up killing a kid in a crosswalk instead. I’m thinking about asking my friends to leave their phones in a bin by the door. I understand some people have kids and that turning their phone off isn’t a realisitic request. What if Grandma dies or the dog runs away while we’re out right? Well, my un-expert opinion is that not much is going to change in the few hours the phone was off. However, for those who will not (for whatever reason) turn their phone off, perhaps they will consider putting their baby in my super hip and childishly cool, “Bedazzled” container. I can’t wait to grab the hot glue gun and get started. It’s gonna be fab-u-lous.
Remove Apps/Turn off Notifications
Now that LTE, 4G and WIFI are standard in most places, why not simply take a few minutes to remove the more distracting apps from your phone before you leave the house. It only takes a minute or two to put them back on later. At the very least you can turn off notifications. Do we really need to see another picture of food, kids, booze or cats right “meow”? Of course not. We should be paying attention to what’s going on around us. You can put the most distracting apps on a separate page or in a folder (or both). By burying them deeper in the phone, it won’t be as easy to open them and could help curb the desire to check. This way you won’t become lost in your own head trying to come up with the perfect hashtag reference to fit the photo of the concert that you should have been paying attention to in the first place…#run-on-sentence #deepbreath
Make it a Game
This isn’t an original idea by any means, but it can be both fun and beneficial. There are a million variations to this concept but the basic principle is anyone caught on the phone has to either drink, pay for dinner or complete some sort of humiliating challenge. First Jackass™ to check their phone has to do a wasabi snooter or whatever. Let the games begin!
Get Rid of It
This is only for the extreme folks. Now, I’ve been known to do some crazy cold turkey stuff just for the hell of it but even I couldn’t take it this far. One time I ate nothing but watermelon for 3 days. Last year, I ate strictly grass fed beef and vegetables for just over 6 months after I read a book called “Primal Body, Primal Mind”. And both of those decisions pale in comparison to getting rid of a cell phone. It is possible, and there are plenty of people who don’t have them, don’t use them and don’t like them. I may not be capable of going that extreme but I do applaud those that have. I talked a big game for months before I finally caved in and purchased the latest Google phone. I’m not sure who I was actually threatening though, my friends or myself. I thought I could simply revert back to the days of super small phones and T9 texting but I was sadly mistaken. I used to think I missed them and I suppose I do in a way; not enough to give up this Nexus 5. Did you know it can take photos similar to what you see in Googles 360° street view? It’s truly spectacular.
And so there you have it. I’m very excited to dedicate more of myself to my friends and family – especially when we are together. I sincerely hope some of you are inspired to do the same. I’m not completely ditching technology anytime soon but I am taking steps to minimize my involvement with it. And this realization is alright with me.