The above picture was taken the other day. My wife and I were lucky enough to go see Haim (my favorite group!) at Radio City Music Hall. I’ve been reading this fascinating book lately: How To Break Up With Your Phone, by Catherine Price. It is, as the name says, all about learning to live your life with less reliance and obsession with your phone. To be clear, it isn’t about stopping phone use, but being more conscious of it’s use.
At one point, the book offered this: Take a look around, wherever you are. How many people are on their phones? I’d never really done it, so I thought, sure. I looked and saw this picture. All those little lights? Phones. And the picture doesn’t do it justice – there were plenty more. Granted, this was a relatively young audience and it was before the concern started, but I was still floored. Most of the folks on their phones seemed to be sitting with other people. Were we all really ignoring our friends and loved ones to stare at a shiny box?
I’ve written about it before, but it seems worth saying again: Put down your phone, if you can and if you don’t need to have it in your hand. I have to admit that I can’t believe I’m typing this, because I am notoriously bad with phone use, but it is something I am trying to change because I have to.
Why should you try to use your phone less? Well….
- It can make you sleep less, and hurt your sleep quality.
- They encourage and make multitasking easier, and that damages productivity.
- They have been linked to an array of societal problems, including depression and suicide.
- They hurt our ability to form relationships with others and participate in society as a whole.
Price makes a couple of arguments that never quite occurred to me before as well: Every second with our phones is a moment robbed from doing something else, be it reading a book, taking in nature, hanging with family and friends, whatever. We take our phones out when we are bored, but it is in the moments that we pause for silent reflection that our brains have time to catch up with the world, to process and to develop new ways of thinking and insight into current problems.
Just to be clear, I don’t want to put my phone completely down, and I don’t plan on doing so. A better way to addressing when to pick your phone up and when to put it down, as far as I am concerned, is to make sure you know why you are using your phone. Are you doing it because you are bored? Do you want to get lost in the “scroll hole”? If so, maybe reconsider your use. But is there a conscious reason you want to use your phone? Looking for a fact that came up naturally in the course of a conversation with your friend? Want to show them that hilarious video? Those uses make sense to me, as they are part of an overall social interaction.
Again, I highly recommend How To Break Up With Your Phone. It’s been helpful to me already. It also encourages you to download an app to track your use, and I already did that, going with Moment.
Any thoughts you want to add to this? I’d love to hear them because I want to know if this prospective is one that’s shared. What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!