Why I Decided To Lessen The Use Of My Smartphone

And why you should, too.

In the past few months I have missed so much hours from school and threw away opportunities to learn and study the language I am currently learning.

View from the top of the Oslo Opera House

Before I begin, let me explain my situation.

I currently live in Norway as an immigrant from the Philippines. And as a person who has experienced and seen extreme poverty since I was a little child, being in this country has turned me into a very dependent student.

What do I mean by that?

  1. Norway is willing and sure to support you, as long as you do your part as a well-functioning member of the society (in some cases, some people do not have to be.)
  2. Education here is almost free for young students like me, which means if you want to learn, they will give you the opportunity do so.
  3. Information is available and readily accesible in libraries, and in most public offices and areas. Most Norweigans speak English as well.
  4. Lastly, and partly the cause of my problems, is that the internet speed is ridiculously high. Last year, internet service provider Akamai reported that the average speed of Norway’s Internet connection speed is 20.1 megabits per second (Mbps), second to South Korea’s 27 Mbps average.

I grew up in the Philippines with an overwhelming internet average speed of 3.5 Mbps (I read that it has become 4.3 Mpbs last October. Still overwhelming).

Also, you could imagine the look on my face as I realized that I could now stream all LoTR movies at once without being irritated with the buffering sign. Because there is almost always no buffering sign.

I guess you now have an idea of why I limited my use of the smartphone.

I had become a slave to the internet, and I became aware of that when I began to make excuses to stay at home to watch movies and play online video games. When my parents were at home I’d go to the library instead of going to school to stream Youtube videos. But let me correct myself — I became aware of it after I found out that I missed almost all exams and projects in all the subjects in school (and missed ca. 120 hours in school).

My parents were called by my teacher, who expressed her worry and concern about me. I always believed that I was a brilliant student, but when I add into account my laziness and addiction to the Internet, I realized that I was an idiot. And the truth is, a hard-working man is far better than an over-confident idiot.

I took the free education and fast internet for granted, ignoring the fact that I was still a student without a job. I was, in fact, and I quote from T.S Eliot:

Distracted from distraction by distraction.

I involved myself with so much social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, where I sought after favors and “likes” from different people who I barely knew. I did not even know some of them.

I thought that everyone who was listed in my social accounts, in my smartphone, needed me. And because I believed in that, I wasted precious time with my family and my studies. The wasted time spent in interacting with my phone could have been time used for learning the Norweigan language, or learning new skills or developing personal relationships.

But I do not blame my phone. I blame myself entirely for the lack of discipline and abuse of power. Our phone is a gateway for us to enter the Internet, where endless amount of information can be obtained. It is a tool for us to communicate with loved ones when we are away, and is used to learn about news the moment it happens.

Unlike me, you may have the control to keep yourself away from the distractions of your smart phone.

But there are a few things that may suggest that you are a slave to your phone:

  1. You spend most of your time on your phone when you are inside. Draw, write, create. Learn new skills. If you live with your family, interact with them. Cook, play music, read a book. Do your homework.
  2. You spend most of your time on your phone when you are outside. Keep it inside your pocket and observe your surroundings. Take a walk, appreciate the beauty of everything. If you are with your friends, please, talk to them. Don’t be a ghost.
  3. You are slow and easily tired. Exercise and get fit. Go and learn a sport, or jog outside. Go swimming. Just give time off the phone to become a healthy person.
  4. You seem to have more problems than you actually have. Looking at the happy moments of friends online may give you that urge to want what they have right now, and when you realize that you can’t have it at the moment will make you anxious.

I am not saying that we should cut our usage of phone entirely, because it is true that is important for us who live in the modern age. But let us also live outside of it, working hard on things that matter to us the most. Let’s meet up with friends in person, learn how to swim, or watch movies with our families.

Lessening the use of smartphones may not get you your goals at once, but it will definitely help you develop relationships, discover new abilities and skills, and help you work productively towards your dreams.

This first story that I have written on Medium is proof of it.

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