Smartphone Detox: Maybe it’s time to leave the phone at home!

After writing my last blog post last week on how social media is changing our relationships, I was inspired to do an experiment: No Facebook, no twitter, Instagram or any other social media platform for 5 days. I left my phone at home and allotted myself 30 min an evening to answer text messages and personal email. Here are some of my main my main observations:

We have forgotten how to sit still with our thoughts

I was waiting to go into a meeting on day one and my first instinct was to reach for my phone. It was extremely uncomfortable to sit there with nothing to do. I fidgeted, tapped my foot watch the seconds tick by. I felt like a kid again waiting with my parents for a doctor’s appointment and having to be told to sit still and be patient. We have become so accustomed to having entertainment or work at our finger tips that we have actually forgotten how to just be alone with our thoughts for 5 minutes. Are we all developing technology induced ADHD?

People are so impatient

Apparently waiting a few hours to text someone back it tantamount to relationship suicide. To put it mildly, I upset a lot of friends and family. My mother thought I must have been kidnapped, or worse (in retrospect I probably should have filled her in on my little experiment). The person I am dating was certain I must be furious with him about something. My friends thought I was ignoring them. It is amazing how we have come to expect such immediate responses, that when we don’t get one we immediately resort to catastrophic thinking. What if the person we texted had simply lost or forgotten their phone or was stuck in an all-day meeting, and yet we are already pulling our hair out ready to send out search parties and sniffer dogs! It has become such an issue that Psychology Today has even written an article on how to prevent text message burnout!

Sleep! Oh how I missed you

The first two days were hard. When you are struggling to get to sleep, what do you do? Immediately reach for your phone, scroll through Facebook, secretly take that stupid quiz that we made fun of everybody else for doing. But after a couple days, peace! There were no more late night texts or notifications beckoning me to reach for my phone, I was reading a book instead of staring at a screen. I was actually feeling much more relaxed. No more waking up to see the daunting number of work emails waiting for me. There is actually some science behind this one.

Leading by example

It’s a sad state of affairs, but normally when I go out for lunch with friends half of the time is spent answering urgent work emails or texts and just generally being distracted from the actual human interaction that was the intention. Being the only one without a phone makes people uncomfortable and self-conscious. Not having your face glued to a phone in social situations has actually become the exception, not rather than the norm. I have to say, I am fully in agreement with the Washington Post on this issue.

There is no question at the end of this experiment I was very happy to have my security blanket back, because really, that is what it has become. But it has definitely impressed upon me just how pervasive their usage has become. I am not going to swear off social media for good, but I think the no phones rule at lunch and in bed is here to stay!

Could you go a week without your phone?

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5 thoughts on “Smartphone Detox: Maybe it’s time to leave the phone at home!

  1. I loved reading this! I’ve spent a lot of time not being able to be around my phone because of summer jobs and I miss not being attached to it! I actually sometimes leave my phone at home and it honestly makes me feel so much better not having to worry about it!

  2. My best friend told me her idea of a perfect vacation is a cabin in the middle of nowhere with no internet access. I told her I couldn’t be without it. I guess that says something about us both. She’s burned out and I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. What a slow, sneaky gradual dependancy that has landed us here.
    Relationships are the joy out of life, so I should stand up to something that takes away from it. Logic seems not to apply here.

  3. This is a great post. Makes you really think. Just the other day I forgot my phone at home when I was going to visit a friend. But it felt so freeing be able to really get into a conversation without getting distracted by a text or mindlessly scrolling through a social media feed. I often find myself watching Netflix, but also scrolling through my phone at the same time. It’s like I just can’t sit and enjoy the show without getting distracted by other things. I think I might follow you up on your challenge. Leaving my phone at home when I go to work, or even to hang out with friends. As well as limit my time with my phone when I am at home.

  4. Great blog! When I used to teach at an International School, one of the regulations was that all teachers have to leave their cell phones in their lockers during class time. At first it was hard for me I felt lost without it, it took me some time to actually get used to the idea. Of course I told my family and friends that they can’t get in touch with me during these hours. Ever since this experience, leaving my cell at home sometimes hasn’t been such a challenge;on the contrary, I have time to enjoy the moment.

  5. this was really well written! Interesting to see how much our phones really have impacted our lives and how everyone functions. I am the same way if i don’t have my phone on me or if it dies and i’m our in public, i’m constantly fidgeting and looking around anxiously.
    I think that i could go the week without using my phone it is more just there for comfort like you said and in case of emergencies.

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