Summer is right around the corner, and cleanses are all the rage. But while others gear up for that juice cleanse they've been dreading all winter, I have something else in the works: A smartphone cleanse.
The other day, I was talking to a friend about the awkwardness of elevators. Being stuck in a small space with strangers makes everyone uncomfortable, so smartphones are instantly yanked out of pockets and purses. The checking of email, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter commences, and it doesn't end until those painful 45 seconds are over.
That night, I got to thinking about the "smartphone in the elevator" concept more. How many other situations leave me leaning on my smartphone? Way too many. I rudely check my phone while I'm at dinner or drinks with friends, I use it to pass a few free minutes and I even whip it out at red lights while I'm walking home.
Like most people of my generation, I feel the need to be connected 24/7. But texting, social media and incessantly checking my email give me the opposite of what I'm craving. I end up missing out on opportunities for actual connection because I'm glued to a screen. While my job and lifestyle make it impossible for me to ditch my smartphone altogether, as of today I'm embarking on a 31-day smartphone cleanse.
Here are my three smartphone cleanse rules:
1. No post-work smartphone use. Oftentimes, I use the one or two precious hours of downtime I have before going to sleep to mine my smartphone. What's new on Facebook? Who's fighting with who on Twitter? What BuzzFeed listicle did I miss? I've noticed a pattern with this habit, though: I don't feel any happier or calmer. I'm usually left feeling lonely and sad, which doesn't set a great tone for a good night's sleep.
Because the days of landlines are long gone -- at least for 20-somethings stuffed into tiny New York apartments -- the one exception to the "no post-work smartphone use" rule will be using my phone to call a friend or family member, which makes me feel truly connected to another person.
2. No "I'm bored" smartphone use. Sometimes life gets really boring. Waiting for the subway is boring. Standing outside of a restaurant because a friend is running late is boring. Waiting in a long line is boring. But instead of opening every app on my smartphone every time boredom strikes, I'll allow myself to do what people had to do before the age of smartphones: Patiently wait and observe my surroundings.
3. No "I'm uncomfortable" smartphone use. My elevator rides may be getting a lot more awkward -- and possibly better -- this month, because my smartphone will be staying in my bag every time I find myself in an uncomfortable social situation. Scary thought, isn't it?
This certainly won't be easy, and I'm not sure what the outcome of my 31-day smartphone cleanse will be. But in an effort to connect with others and myself in a more authentic way, I'm going to take a stab at it. At the end of the month, I'll provide an update on what kind of impact this experiment had on my life -- positive or negative, big or small.