We live in a generation that’s tech-crazy, tech-savvy, tech-hungry, and desperately distracted. The flip side of technology is its ability to blur the lines of reality. Case in point: Social Media is a viable alternative to real, personal interaction. It’s easier to build relationships online with people of various interests and social circles, guilt-free. The thing is, these relationships are somewhat disposable.
This can’t discredit the contributions of technology to awareness and connectivity, but there’s a disconnect when people start paying too much attention to 7-inch screens instead of the boundless world that’s literally in front of them. You’re guilty of this if you take too many selfies, using the beach or canyon as backdrop. Each minute you spend focusing on digital documentation is a minute lost savoring the moment.
The Truth About Smartphones
Smartphones are practically downscaled computers, and many of the devices available nowadays will put the desktop computers of yesteryear to shame. Portability and mobility is a blessing and a curse, and if you can’t imagine yourself without your smartphone, not even for a few minutes, then it’s time to rethink your dependence. Nip the problem in the bud before it becomes an addiction. Here are solutions you should try out to wean yourself from your smartphone and your insatiable attachment to it.
1. Use it When You Need it
Decide to use your smartphone only when necessary, even if this is easier said than done. You just can’t have too many apps on your device, and there are even more available for download, including apps that’ll turn your smartphone into a digital Swiss knife. As it turns out, your decision will make all the difference. Restrict, or limit online activity to your laptop, a bulkier contraption people seldom use nowadays. At the very least, use your smartphone for its basic functions—making calls and sending messages, in case you’ve forgotten.
2. Set Boundaries
Recover and maintain your boundaries. There’s a reason why phones are switched off on airplanes, at movie theaters, classrooms, and boardroom meetings. There are things that deserve priority, like your safety and everyone else’s personal space. Besides, people used to get by without all those on-the-go emails and online statuses, and it’s unlikely you’re missing something important for the next twenty minutes. Turn off your smartphone when necessary; you’re still on the grid, and everything will come rushing in when you come back.
3. Meals First, Socialization Second
Can you imagine a day when you tucked away your phone during dinner or during lunch? Some people even have the nerve to flip out their phones in the middle of an engaging dinner date. Dinners are meant for meals first, socialization second. You can tap-tap at the touch-screen to your heart’s content if you’re dining solo, or if you don’t mind your meal getting cold by the minute. However, do yourself and your companion a favor by tucking your phone away and focusing on the meal instead.
4. Stop and Smell the Roses, Literally
When was the last time you spent time in the great outdoors, took a leisurely walk at the park, or watched children skating at a frozen lake? When was the last time you did these without bringing along a smartphone, tablet, laptop, even a digital camera? The great outdoors is best experienced raw and spontaneous, and it’s better if you only have the basic few tools to document the entire thing. Digital cameras can be necessities, so long as you focus on the experience and the documentation. The best thing about the outdoors is the absence of network signal, though, leaving you no choice but to sit on your hands the whole time.
5. Hold the Updates for Later
Don’t you just love social media sites? Most people do, anyway. Posting updates on Facebook, Twitter, and a plethora of other sites establishes your online presence, to your real and online communities, but you’ll be amazed how these little indulgences sap your time and productivity. These are serious distractions if you steal a peek at updates every so often at work. Moreover, if you’re one of those who considers social media as a second life, a few minutes of indulgence easily stretches out to thirty minutes, to hours on end. Your community will thrive even if you don’t post-share that dancing cat video, the one you just can’t get enough of.
6. Real People Got Game
Smartphones have downscaled interaction, and technology also did the same to gaming. Although you’re often part of a larger community when you’re in an online game, the connection is different compared to playing Monopoly or Uno with friends and family. Have you ever played Jenga online or on mobile? The virtual game is a dud compared to the actual game, isn’t it? Nothing beats the thrill of playing group games with real people, people you can actually reach out to and touch, fist-bump, and give high fives to.
7. Position Yourself Away From GPS
The convenience of GPS has become a necessity, and many are now dependent on this technology whenever they’re scouting the beaten and off-beat paths. It’s even easier to check out a store’s location online before you head out and visit the mall. These perks numb our sense of adventure, though. There’s a special thrill that comes when you’re lost in the wild. Besides, you’ll eventually find that shoe outlet, and you might even pass by the competition, find deals sweeter than you intended to pay for. GPS is helpful when your position on the planet is of the utmost importance, but unless you’re lost at sea or amidst a lush rain forest, then everything is just indulgence.
8. Don’t Text and Drive
There’s a running joke about seatbelts and helmets, these being invented to protect something that even dares to defy the odds by speeding and challenging the rules of physics. Using smartphones and electronic devices takes negligence to the next level, though. Sure, your car has cruise control and you know the routes like the back of your hand, but the vehicle and the driver behind, beside, and in front of you may not. If you really value your life and the lives of those with you, then you should drop the phone and take the steering wheel and gear shift seriously.
Of course, these are just suggestions to help you curb your addiction to smartphones. You’ll find other ways to curb your smartphone addiction, and it’ll dawn on you that the device isn’t as essential as you imagined. If you’re not convinced, take out your smartphone, grip it like a bar of soap, and consider if you’ve become dependent like it’s another limb, a third arm if you will. If you are, let it go and spend some actual “me” time, away from the distractions and trivialities of technology.