Anyone who’s close to me knows that I’m notoriously difficult to get hold of by phone. If we have an actual pre-organized physical meeting / appointment / lunch date, then I’ll be there with bells on, but getting in touch by ringing me will always be wrought with difficulty.
No, I’m not being rude, avoiding certain people or purposefully not answering. It’s just because I’m always in the middle of something. Always. And I have learned over time, that answering my phone on top of being in the middle of something is not particularly beneficial for either myself, my train of thought, or the people I’m in the middle of something with.
And when I say ‘in the middle of something’ I mean anything from time with my kids, friends, family, colleagues or clients. It also might mean I’m in the middle of writing an article, presenting a seminar or in a business meeting. Maybe I’m in the middle of making dinner. God forbid I might be on another call.
One may be extremely lucky to catch me in a rare moment when I have my phone in front of me, not on silent and I’m not in the middle of something. But for the most part, phone hockey for days for anyone who embarks on calling.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my phone. We have a healthy relationship, but it’s not always been that way. Our pairing started out as most relationships do, exciting, fresh and new. We spent a small amount of time together, mainly when I had free time. But as the years went on it I spent more time using it every day, and in return it became even more demanding of my time. The more I needed it, the more it wanted from me, interrupting me with it’s cute little noises, and having no concern as to whether it was taking me away from people or work.
Then it just got to the stage where our relationship was suffering and I was ready to just throw it down the toilet. It became just downright annoying to have around. I so needed it in my life, but at the same time, our blurred boundaries were making life difficult. I was at my phones beck and call (literally).
But mobile phones are that to so many people. They are indeed a blessing, but also a curse. As much as they have their benefits, technoference is problematic, and society is just coming to recognize that our co-dependent relationships with our smart phones are having a tremendous impact on our quality of life.
Just look at the research, phones are distracting our kids from reading, playing with friends, physical activity and school-related work. They are distracting us from work, our relationships, eating dinner as a family at the table, sleeping enough and driving safely.
Our smart phone habits are physically changing us. We’re suffering from tech necks, email eye and texting thumbs. There is also selfie-elbow (which I will never have, by the way), but let’s not even go there.
Psychologically, we have increases in anxiety with people suffering from FOBO, FOMO and NOMO but ironically, mobile phones are distracting us from connecting.
But the smart phone obsession that has become so much a part of our lives is serious. So much so that total mobile phone bans are having to be put in place in schools, workplaces and cars, to not only keep us focused, but for our own safety. The law is now involved as it’s near on impossible to get some people to stop looking at their phones, even whilst driving their car.
But if we actually thought hard about this without getting defensive, our smart phone obsession is not healthy. It does make it difficult to manage our time well, as well as devote undivided attention to the people we choose to spend our time with as well as the activities we want to spend time doing. This is difficult to do well when our phone is ringing, notifications are pinging and dopamine inducing messages and ‘likes’ are waiting for our attention.
Perhaps all of us need to put in some effort into minimizing our phone usage. Or at least using it mindfully, rather than being so reactive to its perceived need for attention.
Setting up boundaries so that we are using our phones on our terms, rather than it’s terms. Co-dependent relationships rarely work well, so it’s best not to have one with a phone.
I decided to work on the relationship I had with my phone, and we are in a much better place now. Mainly because it’s me calling the shots, but that’s the way it should be surely? Sounds fair to me.