About two weeks ago I read an article written by Scaachi Koul, who compiled a list of all the things that could have happened if she didn’t take out her phone out right that moment. Among other things she listed “Someone will post a photo of a brunch sandwich—like, a really great brunch sandwich, one with bacon and avocado—and I won’t get to comment, “omg where.”” and “I will make eye contact with someone”, satirising our generation’s over-attachment to mobile devices.
Truth is… nothing really happens.
After noticing that I was constantly checking my social media accounts while out with friends (a behaviour that I deemed wildly unpolite in the past), I decided not only to skip picking up my phone every ten minutes, but to take an entire morning off just to see what will happen. Would the government resign? (Wait, they’ve already done it.) Would all my instagram followers abandon me? Would that guy, who haven’t written me in ages, decide to spontaneously message me to ask me on a date?
Having a dreadful amount of studying to do and armed with post-it notes in all the colors of the rainbow, I went to the local Starbucks shop to study, leaving both my phone and tablet at home.
And so I studied. It wasn’t the most concentrated study session in the history of study sessions, but it was different. Taking a break meant people-watching and buying me something to eat instead of scrolling down through last night’s not entirely sober facebook statuses of friends and acquaintances. Werewolves and other party animals found another chance to celebrate. Or to go on romantic dates.
Then I came home and ran to my cell phone. Apart from a couple of likes on instagram, nothing earth-shattering had taken place. So I left it there and told myself that I wouldn’t pick it up until it rings, buzzes or explodes.
What puzzles me is the fact that I cannot explain how I went from frowing upon friends who were constantly checking out their smartphones on coffee dates to being that kind of annoying friend. Or the fact that it takes me less than one minute of waiting at the train station before taking out my phone so as to read articles and blog posts saved on my Pocket account.* Is it saving time or is it never allowing one’s mind to stay still and be more present?
Overall, smartphones are muy fun and most importantly convenient. But mine becoming an extension of my arm makes me wary, which is why I vowed to stop checking out my phone while walking, waiting in line or getting bored in class. Sometimes it is very hard; sometimes I cannot resist the urge, I reach for this evil little white device inside my bag and scroll hungrily (I wonder how may miles I have scrolled with my thumb), only to find myself looking around guiltily a few moments later: has anybody seen me? Do they know? How did I got to this point?
I know that I am not the only who has this weird, bad habit because I observe people on the street every day, walking and staring blankly at their smartphones. I look around me at the bus, where there’s usually free Wifi in Manchester, and see people utterly absorbed frantically clicking, scrolling, swiping; then I return back to my little screen.
Maybe the only one or one of the few who are so conscious and wary about it, though. What are your views on this matter? Any tips on how to fight the urge?
Perplexed (as always),
*Pocket is a website that allows users to save pages and view them later, hence, a lifesaver for people with procrastination issues.