I love smartphones. They might be one of the best inventions ever and we’ve got a lot of great inventions…
As if to prove a point here are some other great inventions we have currently still making the world a better place.
- The airplane
- The internet
- Bricks and glass
Yeah you know there’s loads of cool stuff. And smartphones well… Whats not to like? You have all this knowledge in your pocket which is just phenomenal. Need to know where to go to catch your train? Google maps, right there. Bored, wanna listen to some music? Spotify, Deezer, YouTube et al ready to go. Recipe for vegan chicken nuggets? OK Gooogle/Siri, what you got?
They’re amazing and you do literally have the sum of human knowledge right there in your pocket.
It’s (mostly) unacknowledged but I guarantee you, the smartphone is addictive. Why wouldn’t it be? You can talk to your friends at any moment no matter where they are in the world. You can take photos which are better quality than my old digital camera from 5 years ago. And you can keep up to date on the news CONSTANTLY via news wires or social media.
And that’s the problem – Overload!
I’m currently running a Samsung Galaxy S7, which is an awesome phone by the way and currently a bargain. I don’t leave the house without it and I probably use it from within 10 minutes of waking up to within 10 minutes of going to sleep. But I am very conscious of how much I use it and I’m trying to limit my use.
My personal current problem is I’m working on developing myself as a freelance writer while promoting two travel magazines via Twitter and Facebook. It doesn’t help that I HATE Facebook; and Twitter I find almost overwhelmingly self indulgent. It’s not as bad as bookFace but not far off.
We use our phones constantly. Daily, I see people walking towards me paying no attention because they’re on their phone. I see parents on the bus with a barely one year old children that they’re IGNORING because they’re playing Candy Crush.
FUCKING CANDY CRUSH!! There’s a human child right there begging for your interaction…!!
You also see whole tables in restaurants where all of the people are on the phones, probably posting on social media about how great a time they’re having.
You can justify these instances easily.
The person walking towards you while typing on their phone is telling the person they’re en route to meeting that they’re late and they’ll be another 10 minutes or so, ever so sorry. What they’re actually doing is sending various emojis to a group chat (I was walking behind a girl the other day who was actually doing that).
The mum ignoring her child to play Candy Crush is taking a well earned break from her demanding duties to play a game during an otherwise tedious bus journey. OK, I get it, but still… I’ll bet that what you’re seeing is tip of the iceberg.
And the table where everyone is on their phone, sure I’ve been there. One person gets a message, someone else does too, then the other person/people switch on their social media out of habit. It probably only lasts a minute or two – but I have been in pubs/restaurants where people are on it more often than not.
The science of hooking you in.
There is a key fact to understand before I go on: Your attention is a commodity.
People, and by people I mean businesses of all types, want your attention so they can convince you that you need something or to make you think a particular way about an issue.
It was revealed recently that smartphones are designed in such a way that they do demand your attention constantly. Notifications, pop-ups, ringtones… Things designed to pique your interest and keep you coming back regularly have all been carefully thought about by very clever people who know how to get you coming back.
I mean, look at some terms that would have been alien ten or even five years ago…
- Fake News
These are all modern technological terms which are either created by or the result of extremely clever marketing.
The Daily Mail is notorious for it’s clickbait headlines and the clever way it manipulates the mind of readers with half truths -in fact there have been various exposés about the way their editorial process works. But people keep going back. Why? Precisely because of the way its written. Its sensational, it gets your blood boiling or it engages the emotional receptors and because its ‘news’ (with a small n) you feel like you’re learning something. It’s like news crack only more damaging to society as a whole.
Selfies – that relatively harmless trend of taking pictures of yourself has been cited as one of the major factors in modern body image issues. But people love them. Take a look at Instagram and you’ll find peoples whole accounts taken up with selfies… On holiday, in the gym, out on the town, in bed… *YAWN*
So where do we go from here?
As stated I do love smartphones – they undoubtedly make the world a better place. But to curtail our smartphone use we need to understand what it is that draws us to them and how we can avoid it.
Time zappers like Facebook, Daily Mail Online, Candy Crush, Instagram, Twitter etc. If you have these on your phone, delete them. Or, if you don’t delete them put them in a folder titled ‘TIME WASTING’ on about page 3 or 4 of your smartphones screen. Having them on your home page, loose- not in a folder, sat there looking at you is like putting a nice frosty pint of beer in front of an alcoholic. They’re impossible to resist.
Personally I haven’t had the Facebook app for years* and if I want to go on it I have to log on through a browser on my phone or laptop. Facebook have made it awkward to do because they want you to install their app AND chat messenger – but it’s such a good way to disengage from it.
(*A recent update on my phone installed Facebook as a standard app, I disabled it instantly).
Turn off all notifications for these apps. The little updates you get throughout the day are designed to trigger that crack fix urge – turn it off and watch the cravings subside.
If your phone pings and you aren’t expecting an important call or message, leave it for a bit. The notification will still be there in an hour or so. Whats the big deal?
Try leaving your phone at home for a day or at your desk when you go to lunch. OK, I’ll admit I’d have a problem with this one. I take a lot of pictures and I’m normally Whatsapp’ing at least 4 conversations at any one time – but I am gearing up to doing a hard detox and leaving the bloody thing at home.
Free Your Mind!
Having access to all that information is amazing but so much of it is crap (especially if you spend sizable amounts of time on my two favourite apps mentioned above in detail).
As an alternative to reading peoples ill thought out political opinions on FB or reading about some celebrities hideous body deformations (cellulite) on DM try one of these slightly antiquated but effective ways at getting information and entertainment.
- Read a book. A real actual book with paper in it.
- Write a book. You’ve been talking about it for years eh. No time like the present!
- Listen to some music, like a whole album from start to finish.
- Tidy your room. I mean… Look at it. You live in a pig sty, whats wrong with you?
- Learn something. All that time you’ve spent reading utter tosh online you could be a friggin EXPERT in counter terrorism by now. Or maybe fluent (ish ) in a foreign language.
- Go to sleep. Stop mindlessly liking peoples status updates and go to sleep!
- Do some exercise – even just going for a walk or something, Anything.
By no means an exhaustive list but you get the idea.
There will be times when you will want to use your phone. Sure why not, that’s what its for. But remember PERSON OPERATE PHONE not the other way round.
Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter though yeah…