Earlier today, as I was driving home to eat lunch (squash soup, quite delicious!) and let Sophie the Bichon out, I had to stop at a traffic light. Immediately, my hand reached for my purse on the seat beside me to grab my iPhone. My fingers connected with the sleek, yellow case and quickly withdrew.
What am I doing? Can I not sit quietly for a minute while the light is red?
My mind went to a visualization of Bilbo and the Ring. You know, the way he reaches into his vest pocket to touch the Ring—often to find solace, but sometimes just to make sure it’s there.
I think it’s quite possible that we have become as addicted to our phones as Bilbo was to the Ring. I know, I know, this is not new news. There is even a word for the fear of being without your phone: Nomophobia. And apparently 40 percent of us suffer from it.
But it was just such an epiphany today. That vision of Bilbo and the Ring. The Ring of Power. The Phone of Power. Does the phone control us? Are we under its power? It sure feels like it sometime.
Too Many Rules
I go through periods where I make rules about my phone: No checking until my morning routine is done. No using the phone in the car. No mindless browsing. No checking right before bed.
But I’m just so tired of “shouldn’ts” and “no’s.” Why have we created a society where we have to give ourselves so many rules? Rules about eating, rules about exercising, rules about technology. The list goes on…
Isn’t this in itself a sign that things are amiss? That we live in a society of excess in a way that is not good for us? Shouldn’t we do something about that instead of creating rules? Get to the root of the problem?
But the Benefits… And the Downsides
Don’t get me wrong, I love my phone. I love how it allows me go get caught up on email, while I’m waiting for my Chai Latte. I love the apps that remind me of things I need to do when I need to do them. I love taking pictures and sharing them with friends and family.
But I don’t love the addiction I’m sensing after a year of iPhone ownership. The same addiction that made the choice to leave “smart phone world” in 2011 an easy one. It is simply too tempting to pick it up and spend loads of time on it.
What to Do?
I need a smart phone for my job. (It’s difficult to oversee a mobile responsive website when you don’t browse the Internet in miniature format on a daily basis.) So I’m going to keep my phone.
But I don’t want rules.
Gah! What to do?
I think the best thing I can do is take a deep breath before reaching for my phone. Make sure that I’m reaching for it consciously—for a purpose. This technique works with almost everything. Speaking, writing emails, checking Facebook, punching walls (I don’t do this, but someone reading this might)…
That is, it all comes back to mindfulness. This is how we live the life we want to live. By paying attention. I can choose not to reach for my phone. Or I can choose to reach for it, because I want to play a game (or two) of Trivia Crack.
It is my choice.
Our smart phones don’t have to rule us. Instead, we can put mobile technology to use to enhance our lives. It can help us find our way when we’re lost and enable us to video chat with loved ones on the go. And that is awesome. We’re in control. The phone is a tool.
We’ve got the power!