A week ago I went out with a friend. He was late because he couldn’t find a parking space. So I was sitting on the terrace and instead of taking out my phone – like any “normal person” – to check out my social networks, I decided to sit and look around me. It’s not an obvious task. I felt a bit like an alien. The new social “norm” when sitting alone is to consult your phone, otherwise you look like a “weirdo”. People who stopped looking at their phones and started looking around them acted like if they were doing something “prohibited”. There were other tables where people, who were accompanied, looked at their phones all the time – by reflex.
The phone keeps us away from people
I remembered the only reason why I liked going with my ex on a trip out of Europe. Those were the moments when we were becoming super close. Of course, we can assume that the holidays, relaxation and magnificent landscapes brought us closer together. But I can assure you that it was not at all related to this – it was the lack of Internet access. Even though we always bought a SIM card from the countries we visited, there were not many gigas to use Internet. During our travels, when we went to the restaurant, we spent our time chatting. Moments of relaxation – also – were devoted to chatting.
We didn’t need to talk much, but in moments of boredom, without a phone, you talk to each other – it brings you closer. This holiday also reminded how much we can make laugh one another. Because suddenly we could have absurd conversations. Constant access to telephone and Internet prevents us from creating this kind of close connection.
And the reason why I know that our connection was the result of the lack of the Internet access is simply because, as soon as we came back, the Internet was there and my boyfriend was no longer there. If our connection was the result of the relaxation, it would have lasted a few more days. But it stopped abruptly with our return and access to unlimited Internet.
Telephone addiction is socially acceptable
Smartphone apps are designed to stimulate dopamine discharges. It’s a pleasure hormone. As soon as dopamine is released, we have a slight “hight”. Smartphone apps work on our brains like drugs, like chocolate, like cigarettes. And unlike other substances, the phone is always with us. Our phones vibrate constantly. It’s a permanent boost. It’s not our fault – our brains love the things that make us happy and companies know how to use it for profit. The problem is that nobody tells us to control ourselves. Why to bother? It doesn’t hurt anyone…
And everybody does it. The other addictions have more visible social impacts. Our friends will tell us if we eat too much and we gain weight. The doctor will tell us that we smoke too much… But the qmartphone? It is so “normal” that it becomes acceptable to display our dependence in public.
Use smartphones in a more «smart» way
I admit that in modern times, it is difficult to live without a smartphone. Although I have a few friends who feel that the phone should only be used for communication and that they use “old” mobile phones. I have a lot of admiration for them, but I’m not going to go to the extreme and tell you to give up smartphones… But we still need to learn how to use them in a more “smart” way.
I too was addicted. I am human – my brain secretes dopamine like everyone else. I decided to stop this constant addiction boost and regain control of my life. Here are the ways how to do this.
Here are the 6 ways we can start stopping our addiction over the phone.
1. Delete Facebook Messenger.
I don’t know about you, but I communicate via Facebook with many friends. Messenger is an easy solution to feel close to people living around the world. Except that sometimes it’s getting a bit too «close» and in fact it doesn’t stop at any time. I realized that I didn’t even find it “weird” to check out messages from friends while I was walking down the street or when I went out with other friends, or worse, when I was supposed to be working.
I didn’t realize I’d never had time to take a break. By always being “available” on my phone, my brain was also always alert and constantly “awake”. Removing Messenger seemed to me to be a very «radical» act, but I felt relief the same day. My phone didn’t vibrate once and I was able to discover my messages at the end of the day on my computer – when I decided it was the best time to do so.
2. Delete all social media notifications.
The most important way to detach ourselves from our addiction is not to let our phone remind us of its existence. To do this, you must disable all notifications for each application. It takes some time to do this – you have to go into each application, find and check the “don’t send notifications” button. But it’s worth it, because every little “beep” we get is actually a few minutes we’re going to spend on our phone. As soon as dopamine hits us, we have a hard time focusing on the thing we were doing… So we stay on our phone for a few more minutes, until the «descent».
3. Delete almost all your apps
I know there are so many of them – and the memory of our phone is so powerful – why shoul we limit ourselfs? Personally, for the past three years, I have a really cheap phone with almost no memory, and I can only have few apps, which is quite enough for me. All the applications that are supposed to help us and make our lives easier in reality they make our life complicated. Admit – how many sports apps do you have on your phone? With my previous smartphone I had about ten… And I used two of them — maybe twice.
The applications are for our brain are like a room full of toys with a 3-year-old child… Try to spend a quality and quiet time with a kid who has a room full of toys. Our brain reacts in the same way to the available applications. Why should we read? Why talk to someone? Why do «boring» things if there are so many gadgets on our phone?
4. NEVER consult your phone when you are with someone
This is a basic courtesy rule – but no one is applying it anymore. Okay, if we’re waiting for an important call – we can say it at the beginning of the meeting and tell friends we’re leaving the phone within range because… it’s very important… But if you check your phone every time it’s making a noise, it’s just ugly… The sad thing is that we are already so addicted to our phones that we no longer pay attention to this behaviour – we all do the same… People don’t spend time together anymore. You can have a friend talking to you and look at your phone at the same time.
A funny thing: we agree to put our phone in silent mode at the cinema to respect other spectators, but we do not respect our friends with whom we talk. That is why, personally, I am not against dinners and meetings when phones are put in a basket. It may be shocking at first, but you’ll see it’s not a bad idea.
5. Stop taking millions of pictures.
My camera in my phone broke a year ago and it’s impossible to fix it. At first I thought, gee, I gotta buy a new phone. But later I realized that I had a high-quality SLR camera… And the only reason I felt the need to have a phone with a «photo» option is basically because we all got into the habit of documenting our lives every 5 minutes! So I didn’t buy a new phone and I learned to live without taking dozens of pictures of nothing at all. It allowed me for the first time to live fully every moment. Because from now on, instead of taking a picture of each pleasant situation, I decide to live it and «engrave» it in my memory. I have more meaningfull memories since I stopped documenting my life with my smartphone.
6. Don’t buy a new phone – repair the old one.
It’s a must-have to fight addiction. As soon as your phone slows down slightly or the screen is not as sensitive as it used to be, instead of throwing it away and changing it to a new model, repair and keep your old phone. You’ll be surprised how long can a telephone last once you’re starting to repare it.
Having a phone that meets all our “needs” is like injecting heroin into your veins every five seconds. The pleasure is so great that you can’t stop. And having a phone that’s already 2-3 is like having heroin, but not a syringe;)
Every day in the world, we buy 6 million mobile phones, and I imagine we throw away as many. The phone is not a recyclable item – it increases global pollution. Moreover, to create smartphones, we need rare metals whose mines are in the Third World countries. And these countries do not care about the quality of life and work of their employees. They also often exploit children. So each of our phones is partly made up of the sweat and sometimes blood of people who work in barbaric conditions. Our phone can actually cost a human life! Finally, keeping him for another two years, even if we have to fix him, is not such a bad idea, is it?
If you have any other tips to fight our addiction for our smartphones, leave a comment. We all need good tips to be able to detach ourselves from it.
This post is also available in: French