I’ve just been reading the Sunday paper, which I almost never do, and came across an article about a world addicted to technology, more specifically smartphones, and it got me thinking, are we really as crazed and obsessed by these handheld devices as it seems?
The article was written in light of an image captured from a private screening of the gangster biopic Black Mass in Massachusetts and showed a group of Johnny Depp fans desperately trying to capture the red carpet moment via their screens, despite being there in person, while an older women stood against the railing completely immersed and the only one to have truly absorbed the moment, smartphone free.
Ironically, my smartphone was nowhere in sight. I’d left it downstairs on the bed while James and I cooked and ate breakfast together, so I was dubious about this claim of dependance. Yes, there’s no doubt that we all use smartphones on a daily basis but surely no one is really ‘addicted’ are they? Then I read on. According to a 2014 Telstra Smartphone and Tablet Index, 84 percent of mobile owners keep their phones within arm’s reach. Another study showed 11 percent can’t bear to go without checking it every few minutes, fearing they’ll be missing out (FOMO), which might even result in anxiety kicking in.
I’m not denying that I don’t trawl endlessly through newsfeeds on the off chance something will jump out to entertain me, but when I thought about the fact that my phone had gone untouched for a couple hours I didn’t feel anxious or experience an overwhelming desire to go and get it, in fact I realised I’d been pleasantly content without it. If I think about what happens when it is near me, I am certain I act exactly like someone who suffers from nomophobia, glancing at it every few minutes despite the fact that nothing changes, when I’m on my own or in someone else’s company. The article mentions that boredom can be the cause of this obsessive behaviour, but I find using my phone actually creates boredom and I often hate the fact that it is consuming my time, time that’s then wasted.
It’s the same with any addiction, if it’s right in front of you then the ability to resist the urge weakens. So today I’m digital detoxing. My phone will remain downstairs untouched and I will continue to leave it be and not go urgently ‘fetch’ it to sit beside me at the table while I eat, or on the arm of the sofa while we watch a movie. You should try it too! If you’re in the 84 per cent keeping the needy device at arm’s length then try to distance yourself. Keep it in another room, go for walks without it, turn it off at night and resist the urge to post about every meal you eat or check in to every place you visit. You’ll be surprised at the relief you feel from when notifications stop claiming so much of your attention.