A few years ago I wrote an article talking about I felt that I was, in fact, addicted to my phone. Whether it was or wasn’t with me, I was basically a slave to whatever was going on inside these tiny computers we carry around with us on a day-to-day basis. I had grown to expect instant gratification from it. If a text rolled in, I wanted to know what it said. If a Facebook notification popped up, I wanted to check it. If I received an e-mail, I had to know what it was for right then and there. I prioritized whatever was going on in my phone over a lot of other things in my life, and I had been that way pretty much ever since I started using a cell phone.
I wrote that article 3 years and 1 day ago, and as I recently reflected on the topic of that article I realized that I have changed quite a bit from the time that I wrote that.
I no longer freak out if I don’t have my phone. It’s still an unsettling feeling, that’s for sure; but actually having a full-blown panic attack just for a trip to the grocery store seems a little overdramatic. Feeling the need to respond to every text immediately as it comes in is also a thing of my past. I realized that the whole purpose of a text message was to respond whenever it was convenient, and not necessarily a priority.
I’ve also learned how to ignore my phone more often. I mentioned in my article that if I was having a face-to-face conversation with somebody when I felt my phone vibrate from my pocket, my attention would switch to wonder who had texted or called me, or what the notification was, and how I felt like I needed to check it right then. While I still make a mental note of the fact that I got a notification, I’m able to remain focused on whatever I’m doing first. I only interrupt to check if there are multiple notifications in a row, as that usually means something important is happening.
I made a conscious decision when I wrote that article to cut back on how much I prioritized whatever was going on in my phone. I realized that while they’re convenient to use for a lot of things, there are a lot of inconveniences that accompany the excessive use I was doing. Smartphones are great, there’s no denying that – but as they say, too much of a good thing can end up being a bad thing, and I think too much smartphone definitely falls into that category.
There are definitely still ways that I could improve on my smartphone usage. For example, I have gotten used to catching up on the news before I go to bed to “help me get to sleep”, but more often than not I feel like it ends up keeping me awake even later. With the Internet so readily available on our phones, it’s easy to move from one subject to the next without even thinking about it. I could be reading about the score of the baseball game (go Royals!) at 10:00 p.m. and somehow end up looking for holiday decorations on sale later, and suddenly it’s 2:30 a.m. So much for extra sleep.
So, for me it’s still a work in progress. But I find that it’s easier for me to control the old impulses that I used to have regarding my phone, which can be a very hard addiction to break. I attribute this to getting older and generally attaining a feeling of being “too connected” to my phone over the past several years of my life, and not connected enough to my real life surroundings.