It was a tough challenge, and difficult to do, but we did it.
My husband and I put down the phones, we communicated more, we used our senses to take in a deeper appreciation for nature, and we truly listened, paid attention and fully focused on our children, our friends, and ourselves.
Whether it was accomplishing three 1,000 piece puzzles or spending two and a half hours on the floor building Legos one day, we realized two things:
1) Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and all of the social chatter just didn’t matter as much as we think it does, and
2) Although I use and appreciate social media for social connection and for my business, there is a time and a place for it.
By putting the phone down and only taking a couple peeks at it per day, I realized how “addicted”—and probably more appropriate to say “conditioned”—we are to rely on technology and feel the need to always be connected to what’s going with things that really aren’t that important.
It’s no secret that many of us have developed an unhealthy attachment to our phones, and an obsession with letting the world know what we’re doing, who we’re doing it with it, what we’re eating and where we’re traveling to. This video from 2013 has received almost 50,000,000 views and is very eye opening, as are some of the stats below:
• 84% of cell phone users claim they could not go a single day without their device. (Smith, 2012)
• 67% of cell phone owners check their phone for messages, alerts, or calls—even when they don’t notice their phone ringing or vibrating. (Smith, 2012)
Such an addiction, and in fact any addiction, can only be understood when the coveted object is taken away. As I put my phone down and shut down from social media and the need to incessantly check my emails and texts, I learned a few things.
First, I realized how addicted I am to the need to look at my phone. Second, I noticed that when anyone else was looking at their phone, I had an urge to find mine as well, but, I didn’t. The addiction itself is pretty fascinating. Here are a few other things I learned:
I was more connected to myself. My mind wasn’t “chattering” or in “monkey brain mode” and I had a clarity and calmness to me that I hadn’t had in awhile. I was able to write things out easily, work on a puzzle and be focused, read a book and thoroughly enjoy it and just think in a more relaxed and thorough manner. I welcomed the new space of clarity which also made me feel extra grateful for an incredible year where we finished a house, had success with businesses, saw major milestones in our children, ran a marathon and maintained good health.
I was more connected to my family. I played a lot more Legos with my older son Andrew, colored more with my younger son Luke, and took more walks and had more face to face conversations with my husband. I also noticed that throughout the day I received more unsolicited hugs and kisses from my kids. It’s as if they really did acknowledge that I was fully present in those moments with them, as opposed to saying, “just one second,” every time they asked me to join in a game or help them.
The FOMO went away. I enjoyed sunsets, meals and games of street hockey with my kids without feeling the need to document it online and wait to see who was liking or commenting on it. After a while, I sort of had a “who cares” attitude—just enjoy the moment and be with the people that matter most. The best experiences happen in person, face to face. I was reminded that life’s most fulfilling relationships are the ones right in front of my eyes and spending too much time looking away from these is a disadvantage to my heart and theirs.
We’ve lived without phones on hand before and if you recall, those moments weren’t that bad. My husband and I talked about how we did this in college, on our honeymoon, when we travelled and we even giggled when he said outloud, “Can you imagine if we were in college and took photos of our food!!??? How weird would that be?” He’s sort of right even though I’m guilty as charged.
Life, at its best, is happening right in front of you. While our world and the way we communicate has changed, the true nature of relationships and how life happens is not. I urge you to take some time every day to power down and go for a run, meditate in a yoga class, enjoy your children, go for a walk with your spouse or just do something you enjoy without your phone or without the need to post about it.
Just as 2015 is in the books, the experiences you live every day will never repeat themselves. The conversations you have outside of social media are authentic, the love is real and we’re not awaiting validation from others, including strangers.
If we are too busy looking down at our screen, we’re going to miss this.
Author: Elisette Carlson
Editor: Erin Lawson