While we may be slightly bombarded (and rightly so) with the wise words of “put the phone down, disconnect and be in the moment, step away from the glowing screen,” I’m not going to pretend to be anything different than that plethora of messages. Because it is so.very.important, but I don’t actually think that many of us realize how good it feels to be totally phone-free in social settings — we’re usually able to “find our phone” before actually allowing ourselves to just test those phone-free waters for a bit.
Before I risk sounding hyper old-school and preachy, let me establish one thing about myself. I am perhaps what we should describe as “the guilty phone peeker.” As a Communication Major in college and an 80-year-old-man-who-reminsices-about-simpler-times at heart, intellectually I would prefer less screen time in my life and am acutely aware of how the rise of technology has significantly altered the way people interact. But as a millenial living in San Francisco who gets her energy from connectedness and also L-O-V-E-S Instagram and the like, I am just as phone-attached as the next person. I am one of those people who more-frequently-than-would-be-ideal unlocks her phone for no reason, refreshes email, refreshes Instagram, and then sometimes catches herself being like “I don’t even remember why I’m on my phone to begin with.” So. I am not above it all, I am just trying to make the push for being less glued to our screens. And in the vein of mindfulness, it most CERTAINLY transitions you to being in the moment.
On a recent evening, B offered to take me out to dinner to celebrate a work accomplishment. My phone was charging on the counter, and in our hungry haste, I walked out the door without the phone and didn’t realize it until about seven minutes into our walk to dinner. “Oh man,” I whispered to myself. B asked me what was up, and I was like “Oh nothing I just forgot my phone.” Jokingly, he teased “oh no! Now you’ll actually be forced to talk to me!” 😉 And honestly, it was one of the nicest evenings out. There was no impulse to check my phone to see if anyone “was trying to get in touch with me,” or to check the time, or to see what app had made that buzzing sound on my Fitbit. Not only was I able to enjoy a totally undistracted, humor-filled, wonderful meal experience with B, I was WAY more tuned into my surroundings. And, of course, when I returned home, no longer subconsciously inclined to check my phone, when I did get around to unplugging my phone from the charger and seeing if I had any missed calls, former Vice President Joe Biden still hadn’t called inviting me to an afternoon with him and Barack, so I mean, phone schmone, ya know?
DIY: Leave your phone at home, intentionally
When: I mean really whenever you want.I personally would suggest when you are heading out of the house for a coffee date, happy hour, or dinner, meeting a friend or family member to share a meal together, etc. (For example, I personally wouldn’t suggest it before leaving the house for work, or if you are meeting someone at a large, crowded venue like a Giants game)
Cost: Zero dollars. Just willpower.
Time required: However long it takes you to give yourself a pep talk (“I think I can, I think I can, I think I can….”)
The What Ifs:
- What if I get lost on my way to my destination? You see all those people milling around the sidewalk? I absolutely bet one of those kind souls would be willing to help you out.
- What if my roommate or partner texts me while I’m out and wants me to pick something up at the grocery store on the way home? Everything will be okay. One of you can always purchase it upon your return. No one’s life is going to change because you didn’t pick up cauliflower rice on the way home.
- What if I want to take a picture of something at the rendezvous? Unless your friend or date is also a Mindful Maniac subscriber and is trying this DIY out for themselves on the very same night, chances are they will have their phone on them. You can borrow their phone, snap that pic, and ask them to kindly send it to you. Voila!
P.S. You don’t have to do this every time you leave the house. It’s just something that’s nice to try once in a while, and really adds a nice touch to the get togethers and catch-ups you have in your calendar. I still take my phone with me when I leave the house, especially if I’m heading out on my own somewhere or want to catch up with someone on the phone in transit, but the phone-less dinner the other evening was a delightful reminder of how special unplugged time can be.