Unplugging: Or How My Life Improved By Ignoring My Mobile Devices (A Bit)

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We’re on our phones and other mobile devices (looking at you, smart watches and tablets), so much and so often that life without them seems almost impossible. It’s how we keep in touch with our family and friends. It’s how we take pictures. It’s how we kill time. Hell, it’s even how we date. Our mobile devices have permeated damn near every corner of our lives, sometimes with negative consequences.

I know, regardless of how addicted, or tied to our phones we may be, the truth is that we do need them. We need them for work, and to stay in touch, and even to get where we’re going. But do we need to be with them all the time every day?

I’m not recommending you remove your various and sundry connected devices from life entirely, since that would be crazy. But what about removing them from situations where we use them as a crutch? Follow me down this rabbit hole and see the benefits of unplugging just a little bit more.

FIND BEAUTY IN UNSUSPECTING PLACES

Next time you go outside, look around at how many people are walking around with their faces in their phones. Better yet, wait until you get into an elevator, or a line. Nearly every person in those situations will immediately reach for their pocket, take out their phone, and play with it. Why? Because “there’s nothing to do.”

Stop doing this. Instead of walking around with your head down, look up and see the amazing sights all around you. It may not be that glorious nature everyone keeps talking about, but there is still a lot of visual greatness to be seen in your city. Things like the majestic shadows the sun casts when it begins to set, or the mass of people flooding in and out of transportation hubs. Even the traffic lights bring a symmetrical beauty that often gets overlooked.

We walk around nose deep in our phones to avoid feeling disconnected, when in reality, our phones are what disconnect us.

BUILD RELATIONSHIPS

We were at a team lunch a few weeks ago and a few coworkers got into a discussion where one of us posed a question to the others. Immediately, almost as if it were choreographed, everyone involved in the discussion whipped out their phone and googled the answer. The coworker who posed this question chided us, “Put your phones away! We’re having a discussion.” And you know what? He was right.

The proliferation of information, and the ease with which that we can access it, has caused us to lose the ability to hold a discussion. As soon as a question is raised someone is reading the answer to the rest of the group and the conversation is effectively over.

In these situations, keep your phones in your pockets. See where the conversation goes and remember what it feels like to not be so certain of something. Not only will this push your boundaries a little bit, it’ll also foster better conversations and help you learn more about the people you’re talking to.

ENTERTAIN YOURSELF

Another relic of a bygone era is the ability for people to entertain themselves. It used to be that if we were bored we’d have to figure out a way to occupy ourselves.. All we do now is scroll through Facebook and melt the hours away until we have something to do, or until it’s bed time.

I’m not saying that Facebook and the dozens (millions?) of other social networks are inherently bad, but they are a crutch. Throw that crutch away and push your limits of discomfort. Read a book. Take a walk. Make a phone call. Do something in the physical world and leave the digital world behind. Just for a bit.

NEGATIVES OF NOT UNPLUGGING

Forget about all the interpersonal reasons to unplug for a second. Being constantly plugged in can reap its own negative consequences. Remember the Pokemon GO craze? Of course you do. Turns out there were numerous crimes perpetrated against players who were too focused on their alternate reality game to recognize the dangers posed by actual reality.

What’s more? Some cheeky thieves in London took full advantage of our phone addiction and literally started snagging them out of people’s hands. Right from under their noses.

Being constantly plugged in won’t necessarily cause you to be injured or robbed, but it robs you of experiencing life. Also, it never hurts to pay attention to your surroundings – even if there is not a Pikachu there.

Until next time – put your phone away.

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Arye

When Arye isn't helping optimize your time, he is doing his part to ensure life is full of shenanigans.