A true test of patience is when you’re telling someone an intense story and their nodding and smiling – while looking at their phone. Suddenly, instead of focusing on the details of the story, you’re trying your best to keep your hands at your sides, and away from said person’s face.
Fear not, fellow humans. There is a small but very effective way to decrease our dependency towards these addictive pieces of technology. Next time you’re out to lunch or dinner with your friends or family, take responsibility and confiscate everyone’s phones, putting them where everyone can see it. If anyone checks their phone during your time together (that includes the torturous wait for our food), they’ll have to pay for everyone’s meals. That’s one very expensive text to check. But is it effective?
I was at a friend’s dinner party where I had just got acquainted with her guests; people I hadn’t had the chance to meet before. I didn’t think they would feel comfortable giving me their phones and frankly, as an extroverted introvert, meeting so many new people made me forget as well. It was only after everyone started browsing their newsfeeds and instagramming their food, that I realized the effect turning off your phone had during mealtime. Conversations went from profound topics about our thoughts on current events to bantering about the latest viral video. You know, the one where that guy falls off that thing – again? Candid opinions and comments were downgraded to snorts and laughter driven by a 30 second video clip with essentially no real substance.
In order to avoid these moments and have conversations without the help of your screens, here are 5 reasons to put down your phone – now!
1. Ignorance is Bliss
When you’re constantly tweeting and updating your status, the only thing on your mind is usually how many people are liking your status, or reading your tweets. Without a certain number of likes or retweets, it’s easy to feel neglected and lesser than the rest of your followers, whose network is 10% larger than yours is. Disconnecting yourself from social media, even for just or a few hours, allows you to forget about your statistics and focus on more important things. Perhaps getting your family to like you more?
2. My Eyes Are Up Here
You’re missing out on a lot when you’re spending so much time behind your screen. Emoticons might express your feelings well, but the expressions on people’s faces just cannot be captured into a yellow face. Put your phone down and have a face-to-face conversation instead. Or go on a date with yourself. It gives you a chance to spend some alone time, build your oral skills, make some memories, and have more candid moments with your friends. Chances are, the person you spend time talking online with for many hours is actually a lot different in person. (And they respond a lot faster, too.)
3. Two Can’t Keep A Secret
No matter how good you think your breakfast, lunch, and dinner looked on Saturday, not everyone cares. (sorry!) Sometimes, it’s rewarding to enjoy your meal without the constant need to update your virtual friends about it. Spark conversation with the person you’re sharing the meal with, or take yourself out to lunch. Time with yourself is not only refreshing, but also it helps you connect with your thoughts and boosts your confidence.
4. Cure Your Writer’s Block
Sure, exposing yourself to the comedians and makeup gurus of the World Wide Web can spark some creativity, but original work comes at the most unexpected moments. It may come during a walk in the park, or even in the shower (stand back, Beyoncé!). Real life experiences drive our creativity. It encourages us to think about the events that occur during the day and avoid distractions caused by the latest updates on our phones. Distract yourself off your phone by trying a new activity. Whether you’re burning calories at a fitness class or taking a walk down the streets of downtown, turning off your phone is sometimes all it takes to turn on your creativity.
5. Sleep longer, feel better
If you can’t put your phone down during the day, try putting it down an hour before you go to bed. If you’re anything like me, going to bed with your phone in hand can end up with you browsing your feeds, attempting to beat your Tetris score, or spark late night conversations with that insomniac we all know on our friend’s list. Thus, bed times fail and circadian rhythms are skewed, resulting in the distaste of mornings to begin with. Scientifically, the brightness of your screen tampers with your sleep (and beauty- gasp!) as well. And well, you can’t argue with science.
Whether you’re telling the world about your day, or sending your best friend a SnapChat that cannot be processed by the human eye, it seems we’re all about about our screens today. When we’re not updating, we’re thinking about ways we can be updating. Small changes can make a big impact on our daily lives. It is only after you start disconnecting every once in awhile that we start to realize about everything else that the world has to offer. Whether it’s for half an hour or an entire day, it’s important to take some time for ourselves.