“It” being that intrusive piece of technology you carry around all day and night. You go to bed with it, you wake up with it, you check it (on average) more than 150 times a day. It gives you a lift. It depresses you. It makes you anxious. It is your drug of choice. Yes, it’s your cell phone.
“The first several minutes of your day are defined by what pops up on the screen,” Anderson Cooper says in a recent 60 Minutes segment. “And there’s tremendous power in that.” What else in your life gives you that powerful “large and in charge” feeling?
I was 43 years old when I got my first cell phone. Before that date, I was tethered to my home base unit of my cordless (and corded) push button (or rotary dial) home phone if I wanted to talk to anyone. If I wasn’t home, I wasn’t reachable. And yet, I didn’t sweat it. I had an answering machine and if it was important, would return your call when I got home. (I am also of the era where we had busy signals! Egad, I’m old!)
I am certainly not overtly bragging about this fact (well, maybe a little) – but in a way I’d like to think my life was better before I became addicted to the convenience of having a phone and data available 24-7. I played sports, I had a social life, I read books or watched television without simultaneously multi-tasking or playing video games. I walked my dog. I played with my cat. I made eye contact when I talked to people and had meaningful conversations without distractions.
I had real friends – not virtual or cell phone acquaintances.
I wasn’t anxious or curious about what you are eating for dinner, where you are, or continually checking to see if I missed a non-existent phone call. Now, (like Anderson Cooper in the video) I can’t concentrate on anything…. my eyes are always looking in the direction of my phone and I get antsy if I don’t check my messages every 10 minutes or so.
Cell phones are a powerful drug, an addiction of sorts. It has been proven that getting a message or a call, gives you a dopamine rush. People calling you means they love you and need you (LOL). The fluttering or vibrating of your phone keeps you wanting for more!
Is this really true, or is this just a sales tactic by technology providers of the world?
Don’t get me wrong… cell phones are also wonderful, and I could not live without my smartphone. But, notwithstanding the fact that I need to be accessible, I like to think I am not addicted. I just think about it as being disciplined.
Do I keep it in my pocket or purse when I am not using it? Yes. Do I check it when I am out and about? Yes. Do I check it first thing in the morning and last thing at night? Yes. But, can I put it down during dinner, when I am out with friends or engaged in an activity? Absolutely. I’m also a sales person with a corporate responsibility to 18 hotels across 4 time zones. And, as a salaried associate, I do need to be accessible more often.
So what’s a person to do? My advice: Learn balance. Set limits like – no phones while eating or having non-business conversations. Turn off the phone and put it away when the last time zone under your responsibility reaches their close of business. Unless you have pressing questions, Siri will still be there tomorrow morning.