Technology Time Warp

Image provide by Helen Haden
Image provide by Helen Haden

A few months ago I posted about disconnecting to reconnect. For about a month I tried plugging in my phone away from my bed and making it habit to leave my phone in another room so that I wasn’t tempted to constantly check it. The difference I felt for that month was incredible. Then life happened and I was back to checking my phone first thing when I woke up and keeping it by my side at all times.

Yesterday, I read an article about our lack of being bored because of our smart phones on NPR’s website. It inspired me to take a look at our communication habits again. Shortly after reading the article I met up with some of my close friends for brunch, a perfect time to watch phone habits (yes, I’m exposing some of you, sorry). As we sat down to brunch, two out of the four of us immediately set their phones on the table. Keep in mind none of us have jobs that require us to be on call so that’s not why the phones went on the table. About 10 minutes in to brunch one friend picked up her phone and was aimlessly scrolling through her phone, not doing anything in particular that I could tell. Just scrolling. This behavior happened frequently throughout the brunch. The other friend who had his phone out only used it for texting, but was responding to texts throughout the brunch.

After brunch we decided to go back to my apartment and hang out. While the woman who had been scrolling through her phone had put it away and was now engaged with the group, the man who had his phone only out for texting had become far more engaged in his phone than the group. When asked he said he “needed to post something.” Eventually, most phone activity slowed down as we began to play games (or attempt to play video games, that’s a different post). Once everyone was engaged and not distracted by other things we had fun and had a lot of laughs.

My point in secretly analyzing my friends’ habits yesterday was just to see if too much outside communication can effect a group dynamic. I find it concerning that we often find ourselves more engaged with our phones and the people we aren’t with than we are with the people who took the time to spend time with us. It’s interesting that we find it is necessary to post something to Facebook so that it reaches our friends and gets “likes” and comments while your friends are having a conversation in a room with you. Take the time to be thankful for the people who want to spend time with you and put your phone away. With phones in the mix, people are only about 50% present and you can feel it.

I can admit that in moments where I’m not being self-aware that I have engaged in similar behavior. I do think that I try to be more conscious of the people around me and that I try to use my phone less and be with the people I’m spending time with.

Yesterday, I installed an app to track my phone usage. Between yesterday morning around 9:30 am and today I’ve unlocked my phone 48 times which is excessive. I will begin my own personal phone challenge this week. I would like it to last longer than a month but I will see how it plays out.

These are the 3 things I will start with:

1.) Plugging my phone in away from my bed- This way I have to get out of bed and face the world inside my apartment before becoming in engaged in the world that happened inside my phone while I was asleep.

2.) Creating a cellphone basket in my apartment- When I have a group over like I did yesterday, I will request that phones be powered off and put in to the basket unless they need it for some emergency. I will also abide by this rule once everyone has arrived.

3.) Tech free hour- Every night I want one hour before bed where my phone and computer are not in use.

Comment and let me know what your tech challenge is for the new year!

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