Lesson 19: Get off your cell phone

Cell phones are great tools.  They are convenient, easy to use, and don’t take up a lot of space.  With the advancements that are being constantly made, newer and better tools are being made available to help make life easier.  It is important to stay up to date with what is going on in the world around you and cell phones make it cheap and easy to do that.  Furthermore, cell phones help to make the world smaller so that you can keep in touch with people no matter where in the world your friends or family are.

That being said, it is also important to remember that technology is addictive.  You can say it isn’t all you want.  The only person you are lying to and fooling is yourself, which is another problem entirely.  It is also among the biggest distractions that can greatly hinder your relationships.  Every moment you spend on your phone is a moment that is not being spent with the person or people you care about most.  There are few things that are more rude and inconsiderate than utilizing your mobile device while you are in the middle of interacting with someone in person.  Do yourself a favor and put it on silent more often.  

That little dopamine hit you get when your phone goes off, whether it is someone sending you a text message or getting a like on something you posted on your Facebook or Instagram page or engaging in battle on Clash of Clans, will fade quickly.  You will probably jump on again shortly after to get another hit.  You keep doing it, but you are missing what it will likely cost in the long run.  Experiencing life.  Real physical and emotional connections with others.  The same thing goes with taking pictures.  I understand the appeal of wanting to preserve the memory.  Just don’t do it at the cost of missing the experience.  What good is a photo of a place you were at if you can’t even tell them what it was like to be there?

How many times have you gone somewhere with someone and they spent enough time on their phone for you to notice?  You decided to go on a day trip somewhere really special.  Maybe it was the beach.  Maybe it was for a hike by a beautiful river or lake.  Maybe it was to go take a tour of a really cool castle.  It is understandable that you want to take pictures to commemorate the wonderful time you had there.  I even encourage that.  Try to minimize phone usage.  You aren’t fooling anyone and you are missing the moments that matter.  Spend too much time taking pictures in an effort to capture the memory and you will miss out on the actual making of the experience.

This goes for meals as well.  I will let you in on a well known fact.  Not very many people care about what your food looks like.  Put the phone away.  Not just just face down on the table.  Away.  In your pocket.  In your purse.  Leave it in the car.  I understand that emergencies happen, but that is no reason that you can’t set your phones out of reach.  If it goes off, minimize contact.  Better yet, tell people in your life about specific times you will not be interacting with your phone.  During meals, work, sleep, etc.  That way, if they call, you know it is likely urgent.  Phones are great tools, but like all great tools, there are times and places that they are not appropriate or even helpful.  Pay less attention to the phone and more to the people around you.  I assure you, they are worth so much more than whatever is on your device.

Being on your phone while you are with someone also communicates a lot about you.  Perhaps it is intended, but most likely, it isn’t.  It is easy to misunderstand or overlook the message you are sending someone you are physically near when you are on your phone.  Like anything, there is context to be taken into consideration, but a lot of the general nonverbal messages are the same.  You are bored, easily bored, or easily distracted.  What is happening on your phone is more interesting than what is happening with the person or people around you.  You are too busy to take those around you into consideration.  The list goes on.

Takeaways:

  1. Technology is addictive.
  2. Being on your phone during a face to face is rude and inconsiderate.
  3. Put the cell phone away, not just down.
  4. Taking pictures does not preserve experiences as much as actually experiencing them.
  5. How often you are on your phone says a lot about you.

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