I believe that we are addicted to the very equipment that we use to tap into the Internet and social media. I’m not blaming the invention of the computer, but the convenience of the invention of the smartphone. When Steve Jobs unveiled this unique concept of intense communication, he released an immediate gratification “drug” so addicting that people have a difficult time not touching it or referring to it, at every moment of the day. I recently discovered that I am not exempt.
When I was being interviewed for Huff Post Live a while back, I can recall feeling completely and totally out of my element because my iPhone 6 Plus was too big to sit with me on camera, so I gave it to my publicist for the duration of filming. I was only on set for about 15 minutes, but it was a long and agitating 15 minutes. My words were on point, but every so often my personal attention reverted back to the awareness that I did not have my phone with me.
For some, it is a lifeline, or a way to vent, and it can be an indication of what is missing from one’s life that others seem to be enjoying. These things can make us cling to it as though it’s a necessity like breathing. We keep “checking in,” posting and commenting throughout the day. Add outside texting to that and you get a person with a very busy accessory taking up too much personal time. After some thought, I came away with a few useful suggestions to help take control of this addiction. They are not foolproof, but it’s a start.
The first thing to do is to acknowledge that you have this addiction. I’m not suggesting that you do or you don’t, but a good way to gauge is to test it. Take a walk without your smartphone. Take note as to how you feel and whether having it (or not having it) makes you feel insecure. It’s all about baby steps, so pick a time of day and regularly take a short walk somewhere without your phone. If you discover that you are addicted, then this act may be scary at first. I know, as I’ve been there, and the only way I got used to it was by doing so daily, in small increments of time.
Do not answer a call or text if you are engaged in something else. Having a meal out with friends? Going to the bathroom? Exercising? Reading? Meditating? I have known people to take a call or answer a text while doing all of the above and more. Before smartphones we had regular landline phones. You weren't able to take a call just anywhere because you couldn't carry the phone with you, which is why we eventually had answering machines. If someone had to speak to you and you were not available, they left a voice message. They can still do that today. The important thing to do is to let them! Immediate answering is not always gratifying when we pick up that call or text. Respect yourself and your callers enough to give your attention to the task in front of you. Be present with the people you are engaging with who are face to face. Additionally, keep the bell off and leave the texts and calls for responding to later.
Finally, know that for the most part, the people that you are commenting to in social media are strangers and it's easy to go through emotions while posting to them. Personally, I resolved the temptation by reminding myself that these are indeed stranger and I wouldn't necessarily talk to them in such depth of conversation if I passed them on the street. Yet, here I am thinking that their opinion is worthy of my time. Time I can never get back.
I believe that we totally forget that we are giving away our happiness, our power, and our time, to people we don't know about issues and feelings that they don't need to express with us. I have learned to go to the post that attracts me and read it, but I do not comment on it unless I have something good to say. The old mothers adage that if you don't have anything good to say, do not say anything at all, still bodes true today. It will help you to listen to that advice every time.