“Life is what happens to you while you’re looking at your smartphone.”
I recently came across this quote in a quaint little cafe and was quite intrigued at the reaction my friends had to this.
They all scoffed at it and brushed it aside immediately. A world without our phones and laptops and tablets? Unimaginable.
Now, today’s youth does not really need a special introduction as tech-savvy, everyone knows about it- our parents look for us when the WiFi is not working, and our grandparents look for us when their small keypad phone isn’t ringing as loudly as it used to.
Although, who can blame us?
The very task that once needed a computer can now be done by a gadget which fits into our palms.
When I say “task”, I mean all tasks, everything imaginable under the sun.
Sure, smartphones are useful but there is a very grey line between us using it for work, and us just using it because we are addicted.
We often do not realize but our phones become a constant companion, except this one can turn out to be quite harmful to our mental and physical health.
Upon talking to several school psychologists, I found out that an astonishing number of school students (between the ages of 14-18) in India nowadays are haplessly addicted to their phones, and the tantalizing apps they contain.
Some go to bed crying because they could not finish the last level in “Subway Surfers”, some keep refreshing their Facebook notifications hoping for any activity by any friend and some keep uploading every minute detail of their life on their Instagram stories.
It is not just the phone in our hands to blame, or the social media apps in them, but also the constant need of validation from others, psychologists feel. It is not just among impressionable teenagers, but also applies to adults. The urge to connect, and to always stay connected often makes you feel empty when there is no communication from the other side – the vast expanse of Facebook or Instagram or Snapchat.
It is also a great tool of procrastination that also provides momentary enjoyment and distraction from the task at hand.
Keeping this problem at mind, the solution suggested by many is to “Disconnect, to Reconnect”.
“Digital Detoxification” camps have come up in USA and UK, to tackle this very problem.
They recognize the digital world as toxic, and help customers get over that toxicity and look at life without the crutches of a smartphone. Not just look, but also feel and enjoy.
“Digital Detox® Retreats” is one such camp where they claim to be “…the first internationally renowned tech-free personal wellness retreat where attendees give up their smartphones and gadgets in exchange for an off-the-grid experience of growth, reflection, mindfulness, creativity, community and (dis)connection.“
“Camp Grounded” is also another camp which has been described to be like a “Summer Camp for Adults” where people surrender all their gadgets and gizmos and reacquaint themselves with living in the present real world, and not the virtual.
But you do not always need to enroll yourself in a digital detox camp, you can also take small steps at home which will allow you to slowly remove the addiction.
The moment you feel a physical tiredness kick in even though you have been sitting at home with your phone all day, you will know it’s time for some detoxification. When the feeling of looking at your phone increases your anxiety, or not being able to look at it, check your notifications after a second or two causes stress, you will know it’s time.
When you start asking yourself, “how much online is too much?“, you will know that you have to unplug yourself from your phone or even, your laptop.
Switch it off and give it to a family member and go out for a walk or a jog. Breathe in the fresh air outside.
Read the book you have always wanted to but somehow never managed to find the time for you will be surprised at the amount of time you’ll have the moment you leave your gadget.
Talk to your family members or have a chat with your friends, face to face.
At last, remember what Robin Lee said, “Sometimes you just have to unplug from everything to find yourself again.”