I’ve been wanting to throw my phone out of a window more often than not lately. Actually, make that other people’s cell phones, too (although that’s not very nice or “yogic,” is it?). Just the other day, Eugene, Bodhi, Lucy, and I were all out for a walk and we saw another family with teenage kids walk by on the other side of the street. All four members of that family were looking down, scrolling through their phones. Outside. Walking. Together.
In 2018, 77% of Americans owned smartphones, up from 35% in 2011. Studies are showing (you probably already knew this) that we are increasingly addicted to the quick, download anything from anywhere technology. The more we use our smartphones and particularly scroll through social media, the more depressed and disconnected we feel. In fact, social media (and many sites now) are designed to give us quick hits of dopamine (likes) and to “feel good” in the moment with their notifications, scroll to refresh features, and stream of beautiful imagery. In essence, these sites are designed to create addictive behaviors and habits.
I, as a yoga teacher and forever student, am not immune to this, but I have cultivated awareness to recognize when my own phone usage is presenting a problem. A few years ago, I decided to remove the email feature from the home screen, and I do not allow push notifications from ANY app. However, when I’m lonely, tired, and/or bored, I’ve totally been one to scroll. And, further, part of my business is posting photos, blog posts, responding to direct messages. But, at what point does it all become just way too much??
When you want to throw your phone out the window. That’s when.
I’ve had this moment come up many times over the past year and a half. I’d find myself nursing Bodhi in the middle of the night and scrolling. I’d be alone writing and doing administrative tasks for the business and reach for my phone to find a sense of connection. I’d be tapping through Insta Stories looking for sources of inspiration. Even worse, when I found myself stuck on personal or professional matters, I’d pick up my phone as if it would have the answer (it never has).
And, then one day I heard my own inner voice…”What you’re looking for, you won’t find it here.”
What you’re looking for, you won’t find it here. WHOA. And, what was I looking for? See above: connection, love, inspiration, certainty, bypassing boredom or loneliness, rest, answers for my life. I’m certain not the only one.
What did we do before cell phones, and more specifically smartphones? We used atlases (I’m not too young to have used them, y’all) instead of the Maps app. We read actual books and newspapers on the metro, bus, train. We looked in another human’s eye at the checkout line instead of passing the time with Twitter. We allowed ourselves to get bored, and delighted when that boredom resulted in increased creativity.
But, it’s hard to quit our phone habits just like that. So, here’s what I propose. What new ritual can you replace your cell phone usage with?
Making a cup of tea in the quiet of the morning instead of reaching for your phone.
Choosing to go for a walk when you need a work break, rather than scrolling.
Writing in a journal before bed instead of searching social media until your eyes get droopy.
Reading a book, going to an art museum, making a meal from scratch to find inspiration rather than looking through Instagram.
Meditating or taking three minutes for deep breathing when you’re stuck on hard questions or feelings, rather than drowning your thoughts on the internet.
There is a whole, beautiful and bright world outside of our cell phones to behold and WE are a part of that beauty…but sometimes it feels as though we lost it. But, I can guarantee we won’t find it in that shiny, reflective and noisy device. Whatever it is you’re looking for, it isn’t there. It’s within you. It’s within your TRUE connection with other beings and nature. What ritual can you incorporate into your day to day to spend less time with your phone? Can you commit to it for 10 days?
Have you experienced this frustration with your own smartphone? Or technology in general? Also side note: I think that technology can be a brilliant way to bring us together (like with this newsletter!); however, that’s a post for another time.
With love today and always,