Being Present in a Smartphone World
I bought my first iPhone in 2011. I never had a Blackberry, a Palm Pilot, or anything similar—so that iPhone 3G was my first foray into the world of smartphones. I’ve upgraded it twice since, and now use an iPhone 6.
I love my iPhone—just as so many people do.
The original benefits to me—being able to make calls, send messages, listen to music, and take photos all with one device—would have been enough to make me quite happy.
Add to that the ability to remotely, and easily, access my personal and business emails, social media, my news subscriptions, the internet, weather, maps, podcasts, and more, and one can see why most of us have at one time or another asked, “What did we do before we had these things?”
Of course, there are downsides to “all access, all the time,” and last summer I felt one of those acutely.
During the crazy U.S. presidential campaign, I kept checking the news. I had never done that in any prior election. It was mostly due to the unusual nature of this election, but also because of how easy it was to do so with my phone.
Of course, as so many of us realized when we began to surf the Web way back when, the best intentions to “look at just one thing” leads down a rabbit hole. In the case of a smartphone, it might mean getting sucked deeper into a news site, checking email, looking at social media, or countless other activities.
When alone, this behavior often pulls us away from more important endeavors. At work, it could be a mental time-out from work activities, and as long as it doesn’t last long, that’s okay. But it can be insidious and I know I have to make sure it doesn’t keep me from the important tasks I need to accomplish.
When I’m with other people (for example, at dinner with friends), it’s even more important to not allow myself to let the phone suck me in. Starting with the best intentions, I have found myself pulled out of the present moment, into iPhoneWorld.
I’ve had no problem avoiding the phone distraction at work meetings with clients and I’ve worked to reduce the chances of distraction in my personal life by keeping my phone in my coat pocket rather than my pants pocket when I’m with others. As I’ve written before, it’s very freeing to detach from your smartphone, even for just an hour or two.
Try it. You, and everyone around you, will benefit by your being “present”.
What have you done to control your smartphone use, rather than letting it control you? Please join the conversation with your comments…