We all love our smartphones, don’t we? Well, most of us probably do. Actually to put smartphone use in perspective, according to Statista there are 2.32 billion smartphone users in the world today. According to another study, conducted by comScore, the average time spend on a phone, by an American adult (18+), is 2 hours and 51 minutes every single day. Crazy right? However, I probably don’t need to explain you this, since the media is bombing us with articles about smartphone usage.
But this blog is about a thought I recently had about my dear friend, Mr. Smartphone:
“whom is actually owning whom? Am I owning the smartphone or is it owning me?”
And unfortunately this week, I found myself owned by my smartphone. Constantly in and
out of my pocket. Unlocking and locking the screen. Opening Instagram closing Instagram. We all know the drill. I caught myself several times checking my smartphone, without having
a clue what I wanted to do or check. We’ve all been there right? But it wasn’t the checking
that annoyed me the most; it was the desire to be distracted. The desire to feel good or
happy for a single second. The desire to not continue on the task I had to do, but to just
be distracted. And after doing some thinking, I was probably avoiding the fear of getting lost in my own thoughts.
When heading to work on Friday, I was listening to my favourite podcast “The School of Greatness”. This time Manoush Zomorodi was on, and the title of this week’s episode was: “How boredom could lead to brilliance’. A catchy title that caught my attention, since I hate feeling bored. When Manoush Zomorodi said: “Checking my phone is a constant call and return, call and return that is going on with me and the world, instead of me being in the world.” it felt like all the puzzle pieces came together to create this puzzle right in front of me. Unfortunately, there was no real life puzzle in front of me but, you might guess it, it was my phone. This tiny device owned me for the whole week, just to avoid feeling bored or alone in my head. It was wasting my time and left me feeling ‘yukky’ (as Manoush describes it in the podcast). It was time for a new challenge to be in charge again and find out how feeling bored actually feels like.
And there it was, The Phoneless Morning! Since I love new challenges, and need to channel my impulsiveness to something empowering, I decided to create a new challenge for myself: The Phoneless Morning! A six hour morning where I would leave every electronic device or time showing jewellery at home, and go out to nature to be one with myself, without doing activities or sports to get distracted. Just me, myself and I. With the goal to experience what it’s like when there are no distractions around. What it’s like to see and embrace your own thoughts, without having the option to shift your focus to a screen and ignore them. To find out what boredom feels like. And mostly, to find out how intimate my relationship actually was with my dear phone.
Sunday morning, 06:45, it was time to say goodbye! ‘See you in six hours my friend’ were the last words I spoke to my phone (slightly exaggerated for a more dramatic effect). And there I went, armed with a travel card, a towel, swimming pants, pan de baguette con chorizo, una botella de agua, my notebook and two books. Off to the beach to see the sunrise without capturing it and immediately sharing it.
A minute into the phoneless morning I realised I missed my friend already. ‘What time is the bus leaving and where should I get out?!’ But there was no turning back now. To my relief, when arriving at the bus stop, an electric sign was showing that in 11 minutes my bus would arrive. Where to get out? Not a clue.
Once arrived at the beach a full screen of clouds destroyed the idea of watching a beautiful sunrise this morning. But I couldn’t share it anyway, so who cared? Once set on my towel I started to take my notebook out and finish my daily morning routines. After writing down what I was grateful for, which was not hard to do sitting on a beautiful beach with the sound of waves crashing, and some breathing exercises the real challenge begun: “What to do now?”
What did I do? Good question. A skinny dip for sure! But what I mostly tried to do was listen. Listen to the sounds around me but listen to myself above all. And I have to admit, that wasn’t easy. There was a constant desire present to check the time, see for how long I was reading a book or watching the waves. That constant voice in my head wanted to know how long I still had to go. It wanted to be in charge again and have control. Moreover, I have to admit, I did want to check social media and share the scenery. My phone owned me after all…!
After reading 20 pages of my book, I would get bored. I got frustrated because I always say that I’d love to have more time to read more books, and once I finally take the time out I could stay concentrated. Arrgg..!
After a while of constant struggle (wish I could tell you how long it took but as you know, I didn’t have a sense of time) I was able to just sit there and do nothing. Not stress about my thoughts or the feeling of wanting to do more, just to kill the time. I felt ‘zen’ I guess, (no clue what being zen feels like). I didn’t even feel bored, I just felt chilled and relaxed.
Fast forward a few hours (Not sure how many). I guess a few hours passed before I decided to go home. Not because I desperately wanted to check my phone, but because I knew I had to do more stuff on this beautiful Sunday, and because enough is enough. When opening the front door I was extremely curious to see how long I sustained. I had this felt that I passed the 6 hour goal mark, but obviously I wasn’t sure.
1… 2… 3… *unlocks phone*: 13:58!! 7 hours and 13 minutes later. A smile occurred on my face, I felt proud. After updating my Instagram story it was time to sit down and review. What did I actually experienced and learned this morning?
I felt extremely relaxed, mindful and zen. But the feeling that was most present was weirdness. Weirdness caused by this unfamiliar peaceful state of mind. Weirdness because the most popular highway in the world just got closed down and now there wasn’t even one car on it(e.g. my head). I felt so calm that it confused me; did it feel good or bad?
The definition of zen, according to yourdictionary.
To make a long story short, we live in a world that is constantly on. We go to bed with our phones and wake up with our phones. We take a shit with our phones and maybe even shower with our phones (wouldn’t recommend it unless it’s a Iphone 7).
The Phoneless Morning made me realise that it wasn’t the phone itself that was in charge of me, but it was the constant desire to seek distraction, "the constant call and return, call and return that is going on with me and the world, instead of me being in the world.”