“When I meet someone I want to enjoy the moment of connecting with them. If they’re scrambling to get a picture to post on twitter, they’re losing the memory by missing the moment. Real life and social networking are not the same. I’m in a hotel room right now looking out at Central Park. The people out there are living life, playing soccer. Do I want to kick the ball? Or take a picture of it? I want to kick it.”– Queen Latifah
Last summer I had the opportunity to see Miguel in concert. During his performance, he asked the crowd to put down their cell phones and I was one of those people in the crowd snap chatting everything. Looking back, I am grateful he asked us to do so because he delivered an unbelievable live performance that I probably will never forget. He reminded us in that one moment that by mentally checking out of our phones, we will be checking into the present moment.
We all hate to admit it, but the majority of us are addicted to our phones and struggle to hit the power off button. I personally cannot live without mine–it’s by my side 24/7. When it’s not near me, I experience serious F.O.M.O. (fear of missing out). In my mind, I think that I am missing an emergency call or important life-changing email or text. Most of the time, it’s not even the case. If God forbid my phone is about to die, I am running to charge it. I even sleep with it near me since I use it as an alarm. When I wake up, one of the first things I do after I pray is check my missed text messages, emails, and social media feeds.
The obsession to constantly be plugged in is real, especially for millennials. We are either endlessly posting everything we do to show off how cool we are or we are wasting too much time scrolling through our social media feeds looking at what everyone else is doing. We subconsciously compare ourselves to the accomplishments of others based on what they post, forgetting that social media does not fully reflect true reality. Being constantly plugged in causes us to miss out on basking in meaningful and memorable experiences and conversations because we are too busy trying to capture everything on our screens.
One of my personal goals is to live more mindfully. One of the ways I plan to do so is to take a step back from my phone and social media to be more tuned into the present moment and actually enjoy it. I am not talking going completely cold turkey because that is unrealistic, but finding a healthy balance between my phone and real life. To not constantly check my social media feeds and go on routine “digital detoxes.”
A digital detox is when you unplug from your digital devices (phones/tablets/laptops), which can last a minimum of 24 hours to a week, but the amount of time spent on your digital detox is up to you. These detoxes are know to aid in productivity, creativity, and our overall well-being. You can spend that time trying out something new that you always wanted to do, such as a yoga class, reading a new book, or catching up with your girlfriends–anything that gives you a mental break, keeps you grounded, and connected to something other than your phone. There’s a quote by Arianna Huffington that I love that reads,
“To fully experience the world around us, we first have to be able to free ourselves from the distracts that are constantly begging for our attention.”
I get it, unplugging if you’re someone who constantly has their phone in their hand is going to be difficult, but here are four things I have decided to do to help make the process easier.
1. I went old school and bought a real alarm.
I’ve always used the alarm on my iPhone to wake me up, which unintentionally makes it easier for me to check all my missed notifications once I wake up. Now that I am using a real alarm to wake me up, I do not have any excuse to check my social media or emails first thing in the morning. Instead, I will use that time to stretch, read a bit, or meditate before I begin my day.
2. I set aside scheduled time to check my social media
I’ve now decided to use my commute time on the train or an hour after I have come home from work to check my social media feeds.
3. An hour before going to bed, I put my phone on silent and place it far away from my bed.
In her book, What I Know For Sure, Oprah discusses her own routine before bed which consists of not watching TV and staying away from technology. Instead, she uses that time to relax, go over her day, and read. Since Oprah is #goals, I decided to follow that same rule as hers of taking the time before I fall asleep to either reflect, count my blessings, or read instead of endlessly scroll on my phone or watch TV.
4. Twice a month, I go on a 24 hour digital detox.
Out of curiosity, we asked a few people to share how they feel towards their digital devices, social media, and unplugging. Here are a few of their responses:
“I do feel attach to my phone and social media at times. That is why I do not go on social media after 9p.m. or in the morning right when wake up or until I do meditate.” Mima, @Love_mima
“I do feel like I'm a bit addicted to my iPhone but this past year, I learned to go on a social plug for a day or two every once in a while to relax my mind. Sometimes I feel like I have to keep up with everyone's lives and it isn't that deep. In social settings, I normally won't use my phone unless I'm alone. My ex- boyfriend and I had a rule that when we are together and on a date, to focus on each other. He actually taught me to learn how to be less addicted to my phone since he isn't the social media type nor the type to always be on his phone. In the past, I would be on my phone all the time during family gathering for Christmas and other holidays. I was a teenager so I guess I get a pass lol but it was horrible. I cherish that time now more than ever.” - Charmaine, @Charsimmons_
“It is definitely hard to log off of social media. Almost every morning before I even eat or brush my teeth, I am checking the gram, Facebook, and Tumblr. I try to have a nice balance when it comes to social settings. I will be attentive for 80% of the time the other 20% will definitely be me avoiding certain conversation by acting like I have a text/checking Instagram and Snap chatting. So yea, I'm never really 100% present. However, I can manage being 100% present when it's important like at work, on a date, at a wedding etc.” Smangiee, @_Smangiee
“I find it therapeutic to unplug from social media and the nonsense that goes on in these outlets. I learned early on from being out in the field at events and mixers that being too involved in your phone instead of enjoying the moments can hinder the experience and also distract you from soaking in the true value of the time you're spending. Why waste the energy attending if you could have just watched from home, on social media” - Chad, @Chad_Law
Do any of you feel like you cannot live without your phone? Have any of you overcome phone addiction and found a balance ? If so, what are some tips that you can share about how to unplug from technology?