This is a story of me and my smartphone from about a year ago. I wouldn’t call myself a smartphone addict, but my phone and I were inseparable. Wake up with a phone alarm, browse through social media to make my pupils wide awake, phone to the loo, phone to cook, phone to feed, phone to entertain, phone to forget my sorrow, phone to express myself, phone for knowledge, phone to replace my memory, the list was long.
One fine day my smartphone shattered into pieces. It was just a few weeks before the incident I got to embrace the line ‘Slow is beautiful’ into my lifestyle’, so I decided not to repair the phone for a while and began my experiments with a NO PHONE life.
All of a sudden, number of hours in my day started to increase; I could focus more on work, could see the difference between multitasking and doing one task at a time. Procrastination flew out of the window; I Came across a lot of information reading newspaper, magazines, talking to loved ones and strangers. That is when I realised that I had been only reading (browsing) things that I already knew or partially aware off. The smartphone makes me smart, up to date, intelligent and knowledgeable was just an illusion. It had been making me lose my creativity, self-worth, and confidence. I encountered a lot of face to face interactions, spoke to strangers whom otherwise I wouldn’t have noticed due to my meddling on the phone. I started to observe what was actually happening around me. People watching and books became my most interesting hobbies. The best of all, I took the time to reflect and think about myself. I had been showing all my emotions to the phone more than to real people. When I was angry, sad or painful, I took the phone to browse rather than to speak out to my loved ones.
There were a lot of memorable incidents during my no phone period, to share a few:
Raghav came up with a question,’Chithi, how are rainbows formed?’, Immediately, I showed him few videos on my sister’s phone and read a few articles to him. He gave a grin, which meant ‘I shouldn’t have asked you’. I somehow wanted to clarify/impress him with my answer. I just thought through the day on how my parents would have answered this question when I was a kid. The next day, I went through the net, learned it myself, reflected on it and then told him. Kids are not fascinated with facts and figures, they love to know our experiences with rainbow, our own interpretation about the rainbow and most importantly they like hearing it from our own voice. So told him facts mixed with my thoughts and experiences with a few stories here and there. Now both of us will never forget how rainbows are formed. Videos kill the power of imagination. It is straight forward and tells them that this is it, there is no room for creativity and curiosity. Whereas my stories on rainbows lead us to many many discussions and researches later.
Since I didn’t have my mobile banking app, I had to go to the bank to make a deposit. While I was filling the challan, I totally forgot the date, for a minute I even forgot which year I was in. It was embarrassing to ask someone which year it was. I think it’s the January syndrome. That is when I realised, that I was a person without common sense but with a smartphone. To step out of the house without a phone was like going out nude, every information I needed to survive was on my phone. That’s when I took a decision that I should be information independent and not be dependent on any material stuff to survive.
Thanvi was tearing each and every paper around the house for no reason. I used to go wild. By then we quit buying newspapers as were travelling often and newspapers were like a bundle of advertisements to us. I saved few papers to use it for wiping glass, as undersheet for onions etc., At my in-laws, reading the newspaper with a hot cup of coffee is a tradition. No-phone made me crave for newspapers. When we were reading, thanvi came running to pull one of our papers and asked, “Amma what are you doing with this? These are meant to wipe the mirror’. That is when I understood that she had only seen me tearing paper for cleaning all this while and never for reading. Children do what they see. From that moment, I quit reading kindle/enewspapers and started to read physical books and papers. If your child is doing something wrong, reflect on what you have been doing wrong.
NO PHONE continued for about ten days when I was in Coimbatore. But Bangalore life wasn’t easy without a phone. The two main areas where I wanted a smartphone was to travel (GPS, cab booking) and banking. I had to get my smartphone repaired asap. But those ten days taught me great lessons which I still abide by. Many ask me how could you manage it all. I hardly have any screen time other than my work hours. One great lesson that my inner voice taught me is – You needn’t know everything that’s happening in this world, what matters to you is your inner voice and people around you, this will take you places rather than mimicking what interests others. I don’t want to know everything, I want to be precise in my areas of interests. This made look at social media in a different point of view.
Areas to avoid using a phone:
1. Never use phone to soothe or pacify a cranky baby/kids. It causes several degrees of behavioural problems and also alters the parent-child relationship.
2. Do not use videos as the first tool to understand or teach a concept. It impedes their ability to imagine, thus losing their inborn creativity.
3. If you have a complaint of reduced attention span in kids, check their screen time.
4. Do not see phone first thing in the morning and the last at night. When you see phone first thing in the morning, it has a great chance of altering your mood of the day to the content that you watched. When you see the light that emits from a phone,it suppresses the sleep hormone melatonin and shifts the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle and it takes a long time to get into deep sleep. I don’t bring my phone to the bedroom.
4. If you have a tech-savvy husband who is always on the phone, it’s an indication that you are using your phone too much to entertain yourself, even when he is around.
5. I have downsized the number of apps I use and also turned off notifications for the ones that I use.
6. I am hardly on any what’s app groups for the sake of formality.
7. Drastically reduced the number of FB pages, Instagram accounts that I follow.
8. I switch off the data during my highly productive hours.
7. I don’t bring my phone to public events. It’s a great opportunity to meet people live than on screens.
8. If you keep constantly meddling with your phone in public, it is an indication that your an unhappy individual who lacks self-worth and confidence. It deliberately shows your disinterest of the situation.
9. Enjoy the moment more than clicking more pictures.
10. I chose to put myself on social media, but I hardly spend much time on it. I post on days and time when I am busy moving around, which helps me not spend too much time on likes, comments and get carried away. I do it on an allocated time.