Putting down the smartphone and getting on with living

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Photo by ROBIN WORRALL on Unsplash

I’m addicted to my cell phone. And you probably are, too.

A couple of days ago, I realized I needed to get this addiction under control. So I downloaded an app on my phone called AntiSocial to understand how much I’m actually using — and how to restrict it.

Yesterday, I unlocked my phone 32 times. I spent more than one hour on social media. According to AntiSocial, that usage rates well below the norm for my age and gender. Annnnnd…. I just got an alert and unlocked the phone again while writing that sentence. SMDH.

See? It’s a problem.

At the end of the day, I don’t curl up with my boyfriend… I curl up with my phone and play Brick Breaker until I run my battery down to nothing. I don’t interact with him much, either… instead, I scroll through Instagram or Facebook. Either way, that little screen is in my hands or up against my head for more time than it should be.

The fact is, I really don’t restrict myself from using my phone. It’s really bad in the early morning when Mr. Fussypants has left for work and I don’t have the kids. Being alone is my cue to be a complete blob. On Monday, I scrolled through a ton of junk for a whole hour before I even got out of bed. I felt terrible about it.

I decided I need to quit this. There are so many more productive things I can do with my time.

Most of us spend eight hours on our computers at work. That in and of itself is terrible for us as human beings. There are all kinds of health risks that come with sitting and staring at screens. Then — if you’re like me — you go home and stare at your phone. It’s really bad.

So I decided to do something different.

Tuesday morning, I cut my usage back to half an hour, ran on the treadmill, took a shower, and painted tiny pink watercolor flowers for a while before I left for work. And guess what? I felt like a human being again.

On Wednesday morning, I only checked my email on my phone. In the evening, I left my it upstairs on the charger while I helped the kids make magnets for their lockers.

On Thursday morning, I ignored my phone. Then when I got home, after fighting with a Wordpress plugin for one of my clients for half an hour, I shut off the computer, made dinner, ate with my family, then headed downstairs to the art studio to help my son make a bracelet for his true love. (He’s 10.) Later, I went to visit my daughter in the library where she was finishing a book. Then we all went to bed, and I read a paperback until I fell asleep.

Today is Friday, and although my phone still sits next to my keyboard, I don’t feel as beholden to it as I did at the beginning of the week. I feel like maybe — just maybe — my level of happiness grows as my smartphone usage is reduced.

The AntiSocial app keeps me appraised of my usage, and the guilt that comes along with the truly wasted time is motivation enough for me to unplug.

This realization made me ask myself some pretty tough questions:

Do I really need to know what’s going on with my friends from high school at six o’clock in the morning?

No.

Is it really important that I see what is trending on Twitter before I listen to Rachel Maddow when I get to work?

No.

Do I really have to know how many likes and comments one of my posts on LinkedIn got the night before?

No.

But these things are important to me:

  • Making art
  • Cuddling with Mr. Fussypants
  • Spending time with my kids
  • Exercising my fat ass
  • Prepping my lunch so I don’t have to buy food during the day
  • Loving my silly parrots
  • Reading and writing
  • Yard work (yes, I actually like cutting the grass)

This week I made the decision that every time I feel the urge to pick up my stupid phone, I’m going to steer myself in a different direction to do one or all of the things on the list above.

I also figured out that if I reward myself with time to paint, it’s much easier to get on the treadmill and bust out twenty minutes. Instead of oozing like a blob from the bed to the floor to the bathroom to the shower, I get up quickly and get started earlier so I have more time to paint. Motivation to exercise: found.

Is it hard to unplug? Yes.

Is it worth the effort to unplug? Yes.

Will I get more satisfaction out of life if I unplug? Hell, yes.

I’m just going to do it.

And I encourage you to do the same.

Esther Hofknecht Curtis, MSM-HCA is a freelance writer living in Dover, Delaware. Follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TheArdentReader19977/

Book nerd and freelance writer finding gold in ordinary places. Email me at ejhcurtis@gmail.com Visit https://www.facebook.com/TheArdentReader19977/

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