Maybe it's because in the past six weeks I've read both Brave New World and Fahrenheit 451, but lately I've become very aware of the current and potential problems associated with our ever-increasing codependence on technology. And while television screens and virtual reality headsets continue to advance, I can think of no one piece of technology that consumes our days more than our cell phones.
According to a recent study by Flurry analytics, in 2017 "the average U.S. consumer spends a whopping 5 hours a day" on their mobile device. Which is nearly double the time we spent using our phones in 2013. What's even more concerning is how we spend this time. That same study by Flurry analytics also revealed "50% of time-spent is in social, messaging, media and entertainment applications", while only 4% is spent on "productivity".
Now not everyone will agree with me, but I see this data, amongst other signs, that many if not most of us, could use a break from our phones. So, in an effort to avoid that slight, but unpleasant feeling of nausea that accompanies a day of heavy phone usage, and to be more productive with my time, I have recently made it a mission to limit my phone use. Here are a few methods I've found to be effective.
Turn up the volume
No, I'm not suggesting we go back to the days of ridiculous ringtones, but I have found real value in a simple notification tone. Whereas when my phone is on silent, I seem to constantly check it for notifications, only to find nothing but wasted time and disappointment, if the ringer is on, then I know only to check if I hear the tone.
In my opinion, the most vibrant, and rewarding moments of life are lived off screen. Which is why the black and white theme on my LG G6 may just be my favorite feature of the phone. With each technological advancement in our digital displays, it seems as if the images have become almost fantastically real, thus causing less appreciation for reality.
In keeping my digital interactions void of color, I've noticed an increased satisfaction for my surroundings, and less desire to escape through my screen. Although this may not be a native option on your phone, I was able to find several similar apps on Google Play simply by searching "black and white theme". I suspect the Apple store offers options as well.
Back in my school days, I used to pack my phone with games and other attention-grabbing apps, just to get me through the monotony of the day. But those days were pre-passion. Today, I know that there are many more valuable uses of my time, which is why you won’t find much more than the essentials in my menu.
As social media platforms continue to adopt more and more functions, it seems increasingly redundant to have multiple profiles. Not so long ago, Instagram was strictly a permanent photo gallery, and Snapchat was the sole temporary sharing option. But today most platforms serve several functions. While I think all forms of social media consumption can have negative effects, I have found that limiting my usage to just one or two platforms has made it far less influential.
Out of sight out of mind
While it may still be frowned upon to use your phone in certain places (work, school, etc...), it seems as if society is becoming increasingly more lenient with these policies. During my time in corporate America, I routinely witnessed not just cell-phone use, but abuse on the job. In fact, whether interacting with a client, or in a boardroom meeting, it was actually extremely rare to find a scene without cell phones present. And while I find it difficult to blame those offenders who only wish to escape their monotonous realities, it certainly does not reflect positively to prioritize your social life.
Lately, whether I'm writing a blog, reading a novel, or spending time with friends, I make sure to keep my phone concealed.
Think before you check
Whether we want to admit it or not, addiction to one's phone is a very real issue. And while it can be difficult to resist the urge to constantly check, exercising even a small amount of self-control can be something to build on. Need help? Try taking a deep breath and counting to ten. And if you feel comfortable in your surroundings, you may even do a light stretch.
The evolution of the cell phone has changed our lives in many ways. For a twenty something like me, it's hard to even imagine a time without this powerful tool. But through literature, self-discovery, and genuine experience, I've recently learned to appreciate life a little more without excessive phone use. Give it a try, you won’t regret it.
Here's a song to get you started!