Ten years ago, this week, Apple introduced the first iPhone and changed the world. The iPhone put the internet in your hands. Today, mobile phones transmit more than 42 times as much data traffic as voice traffic. Photography has become a part of everyday life instead of a hobby, with 85% of all photos now taken by phones. The myriad of apps now available for phones is astounding. And, of course, Apple is now one of the world’s most valuable companies. All amazing and wonderful things.
But, is there a downside to this level of connectivity? Consider these questions:
- Are you preoccupied with your cell phone?
- Has your phone put a relationship or job at risk?
- Do you have feelings of withdrawal when you don’t have access to your phone or connectivity (anger, tension, irritability)?
Cell phone over use and, ultimately, addiction are very real and are growing problems. Overuse can lead to neck problems, eye strain and car accidents. Addiction can lead to even greater concerns.
Take Short Phone Break
I would like to suggest that we all occasionally take a break from our phones. There are many ways to go phone-free for short periods of time. Greatest.com suggests these simple ideas:
- Do your errands without your phone.
- Turn off the notifications buzzers and bells on all but your most important apps. Then check for updates only a few times a day.
- Turn off your phone and read a book on occasion.
- Work out without your phone.
- Set a curfew – one hour before bed have “electronics sundown”.
- Wake up to an alarm clock instead of your phone. The first moments of your day will be phone free.
How About a Little Longer Break?
Occasional breaks are great, but what about a longer one. Can you handle a few days or even a week without a phone? With a little advanced planning, the answer for all of us should be yes. In my prior work life, I was a senior executive in a high-demand, high transaction organization. However, by planning with my colleagues, I could be gone for a week without contact. We all tend to over-exaggerate our self-importance and think that the company could not possible survive without us. But, I have learned that simply is not true.
Over the years, I have made it a point to take at least one trip a year to a place that has limited or no cell coverage. Whether it is wilderness backpacking or canoeing in the Boundary Waters, being unconnected is a goal of mine. I find that going to a place where connectivity is not an option works best because the temptation to check in with the world is completely removed. And, I find that the world really hasn’t changed much when I return to connectivity. The news is remarkably the same, and the company has functioned fine without me.
But most importantly, that break from connectivity gives me a deeper sense of appreciation of the world around me. I become more aware of what is happening around me in the moment. I get more clarity in my thinking. I am unencumbered and I am happy. If you haven’t already, try it sometime. You just might find you like it.