For a long time I’ve wanted to write a post about people and their use of smart phones. However, I have suppressed the urge of publishing one, until I felt I could strongly convey my thoughts on paper. I have always endeavoured to try and make people use their phones less, especially in social environments.
First and foremost, I consider it extremely rude when someone is looking at their phone when you are in the middle of a conversation or out having a meal or drink. Always assuming that they would rather not be in my company, if they are choosing to converse with someone, who isn’t even in the same room as us!
Im sure many can admit to waking up and the first thing they do, is check their phone.
You can look around a restaurant, cafe or bar and see groups of people not even speaking to one another, but with their heads down fixated on the screens of their phones. Not only is it damaging our ability to socialise, but is removing a lot of sensory perceptions that you may need to rely on as an individual in society.
Whilst driving to training a few weeks ago, I was listening to a podcast discussing the use of mobile devices. Providing me with the additional ammunition for this post to finally express why I feel people need to go cold turkey on their phones for a while.
In the podcast, it included a talk by Amber Case, a Cyborg Anthropologist, which is a subfield of Anthropology, that studies the link between humans and technology.
She defined a cyborg as;
‘An organism to which exogenous components have been added, for the purpose of adapting to new environments.’
In a long line of human inventions, our smart phones and computers are just another set of tools, in which, a way we live and have become an extension of ourselves. She suggests that because of these new tools, there is now a new species, a new form of homo sapien, because of the new cultures that have been created, due to these technologies.
Of course everyone knows the benefits of owning a smart phone. But are people aware of what harm using a smart phone can cause to ourselves?
Smart phones demand all of your attention, and consequently is breaking up peoples experience of reality. People are beginning to live in two different worlds, the virtual and the real. To the extent where, in social spaces, you see everyone checking their phones all the time. This phenomenon can be called ambient intermittency; where you’re not always connected to everybody, but can connect to anyone, whenever you want.
Her psychological concerns regarding this phenomenon, is that people aren’t taking enough time for personal reflection anymore. Being surrounded by everyone, all the time, isn’t allowing people to slow down and stop, because of this continuous external input, they have no time to themselves. The problem is, when people are alone, that is when there is a creation of self, when you can try and figure out who you really are and what you want to do.
Amber only reinforces my reasoning, to why I believe it is so important for everyone to try and disconnect from the digital world every day, even for a short time, to allow you to become centred again. So you can withdraw from the external inputs of others and just enjoy the experience of being in ones presence and facilitate the ability to reflect.
Why not buy an alarm clock instead of using your phone, to help resist your first contact in the morning to be with your phone and not another human being?
Or may be go on your settings and turn off all your notifications or put your phone on silent. So you only look at your phone when you want to, not the instant you get a new message.
I’d encourage everyone to put some time aside everyday to disconnect from everyone and just acknowledge and enjoy the world around you.
In the last month I have made a strong effort to spend the first half hour and last half hour of every day to myself, without being connected to a electronic device. Just reading a magazine or book instead. It has been an incredible experience and I can confidently say it has had an extremely positive impact on my perception on everything around me.
So give it a go, see if you can manage to do it for a whole week and I bet you will feel that you suddenly have so much more free time, you won’t want to go back to your old ways!