When I take out my phone out of habit or anxiety or boredom, not including those atypical cases where I require my phone’s services for some pressing practical reason, here is what I’m actually doing:
ONE: I’m voting to devalue the present. I’m saying I’m not happy with where I am and how I feel at the moment. I’m affirming that I’d rather be somewhere else.
TWO: I’m playing the lottery. I’m rolling the dice. I’m hoping I’ll win the jackpot and receive, out-of-the-blue, an email that offers me the job I want, or a text that praises me in the way I want to be praised. I’m hoping I’ll read a news story that introduces me to a fact that’s so riveting and transformative that it releases me from the everyday burdens of my life.
THREE: I’m choosing disembodiment. At any instant, I can move in the direction of being more connected, or less connected to my physical self. If I’m using my phone, I’m choosing to be less connected to my physical self.
FOUR: I’m choosing avoidance. What am I avoiding?
FIVE: I’m deferring calm. I’m saying that I can’t fully relax until the email arrives or the text comes through that I’m waiting for. I can’t settle down until the news story is updated. So I will check again, and again later.
SIX: I’m sacrificing intention. I’m saying I don’t want to figure out what to do on my own, so please, phone, please give me something to latch on to.
SEVEN: I’m ignoring my “inner news.” I’m saying that world news, or social media noise, is more important than the “news” I could ascertain by tuning into myself and my physical surroundings.
EIGHT: I’m training myself to be less present for others. I’m getting myself addicted to a level of effortless stimulation that people rarely provide. I’m making it harder to connect with other people face-to-face and I’m making it harder for them to connect with me.
NINE: I’m eating a high-calorie dessert. For the thirtieth time in a day. And expecting to feel OK. Instead of doing one more “rep” of the exercise of concentration.
TEN: I’m using a sadness machine. And I’m blindly expecting the sadness machine to produce something other than sadness.
But if I choose not to take out my phone, I can celebrate, because I’ve avoided all that. I’ve bypassed all of those many traps, all those many spiraling vortices of despair. And it wouldn’t be totally unreasonable to fantasize the people in my life cheering as well – because they’ll be getting a bit more of my presence and attention thanks to this choice. And if I think of the projects I’m working on, I can imagine those projects “rejoicing” too, because they’ll be getting better concentration from me. And if I think of my future self, he’s thanking me and saying, you did good just now.
Notes: For more on this topic, I recommend the book The Power Of Off by Nancy Colier. The lottery analogy in point TWO is adapted from there. The book A World Without Email by Cal Newport is also informative.
2 thoughts on “10 reasons to quit my phone”
I agree so much with so many of your points. I feel lousy after I’ve spent a while on the phone, mindlessly scrolling. I often hate it, yet…I do it. I would much prefer to connect with real people. Living alone, I think I rely on my phone for a lot of stimulation. But I don’t like it.
Thanks for reading, Rhea! I wanted to put these points out there because I’m struggling with phone reliance (bordering on addiction) myself. Glad that it made sense, and I hope you find more and more freedom from the device!