I woke up this morning and turned my phone back on after an 11-hour blackout.
I’m not pointing this out to brag about how popular I am (although, to be honest, I was pretty proud of the seven text messages – I never get that much love…even if two of them were from Vodafone) but rather to illustrate just how connected we are at all times with the world around us.
I had no idea that my notifications piled up like that (and overnight even) because I am constantly checking my phone, as much as every 10 minutes.
Neither did I have any idea of the time and effort such took up in my life.
Smartphone addiction is a very real issue. A 2011 study into smartphone usage reported that respondents experienced phantom vibrations, reaching for a phone that wasn’t there and having feelings of restlessness and anxiety when without their phone for a single day.
If you’ve ever been out for dinner with friends, and every single one of them has been on their smartphone, or if you’ve ever been somewhere beautiful but instead of soaking up the view you were taking photos, there is a short film you have to see called I Forgot My Phone.
It’s a pretty f*cking standard problem. We are so connected to everyone online at all times that we ignore the people standing right in front of us IRL (in real life).
Chatting on Facebook the other day, with my phone in the other room, I used the acronym ‘BRB’. My friend on chat replied, ‘WTF? Who says BRB anymore?’
BRB, an acronym created by the Internet, has been rendered obsolete by the very same Internet. No longer is anyone able to ‘be right back’ because, in fact, we are now always connected. Always switched on, always reachable.
I move between my laptop at home, to my smartphone on the go, to my desktop at work. When that little red circle with a number appears on my iPhone (this is an ‘alert’ for those who aren’t Appled up), I get a small rush.
So, what effect can all this have on your health?
Well, aside from the anxiety you may feel when not near your phone or, worse yet, when you’ve lost your phone.
Aside from the effect it may have on your concentration in class.
Aside from your friends getting angry with you for ignoring them while having a conversation.
Aside from these, the worst effect could arguably be, FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).
FOMO is the anxiety you feel when checking Facebook and Instagram and comparing your life to someone else’s. The fear you are missing out on an experience that someone else is enjoying and inevitably posting, tweeting or ‘gramming about.
How often do you scroll through Instagram while sitting at work, only to be confronted by endless photos of people frolicking on beaches in Europe?
How often do you feel shit about your life when you read on a status update on Facey, ‘OMGZ just got an awesome promotion at my cool, alternative workplace that is always doing something awesome for charity and only employs seemingly beautiful people, my boyf just proposed to me on a beach in Africa and I just won the lotto without even buying a ticket!’, while you’re sitting on the couch on a Friday night, wrapped in a blanket with two cats on your lap and wondering how you’re going to make it to pay-day in two week’s time with only $3.44 sitting in your bank account?
I watched the film Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion recently and a weird fact hit me: the high school reunion is now dead. Our lives since high school are now in a constant state of reunion. A reunion that can be accessed from work, while lying in bed or even pooing.
Or ‘What’s the point of going if we’re not going to impress people?’
So, why should you switch off your phone for at least a night, if not longer?
Because it is exhausting knowing what is happening everywhere at all times.
Because you value your mental health above FOMO.
Because you’ll never celebrate your successes and achievements if all you do is compare them to others.
Most of all…because it’s f*cking liberating to not let your life be dictated by a technological vibration from a chunk of glass and metal that sits in your pocket.
Rage against the machine…well…the smartphone.
You’ll thank me for it.