Is it Wrong to Love Your Phone?
How to stay sane, guilt-free AND love your devices
We’re often made to feel guilty for loving our phones, like we’re in mortal, or at least mental, danger from overuse. But are we?
It’s not necessarily about how much you use your phone and other tech, but how well you use them.
Have you ever found yourself zombie-scrolling in a kind of attention dead-zone where everything becomes bland? There’s so much to see in an unending feed that none of it seems interesting anymore?
Have you ever felt a kind of digital overwhelm, self-protective shutdown coming over you? You know those moments — eyes-glazing, mouth loose, neck getting a crick in it, yet still scrolling, scrolling, tapping away…You’re there, but you’re gone. You’re present in the cyber world, but not mindful of the outer one.
Particularly if you’re a parent, there can be a furtiveness or guilt to your online time - not wanting to set a poor example to the kids (of obsessed or disconnected addict!) but so wanting to escape into your own private Idaho. Th guilt can be the same if you should be studying, working, or doing anything that isn’t disappearing into the scroll.
It can be particularly conflicting if, like most of us, you’re running business through your phone. The line between family, social and business time becomes ever more blurred. It can feel impossible to reach a sense of completion or escape from work. Once, we ordered our workdays and prioritised tasks without emails and alerts jamming our inboxes and pulling on our attention. Those days are long gone and unlikely to come back.
Then there’s the compulsion for having ýour phone always near. Not knowing where the phone is, even for a short time can generate panic. Everything is channeled through that little glass tablet and it becomes increasingly important to constantly be with it.
So how do we keep ourselves sane and engaged offline, in a world of digital and informational excess? Here’s some ideas that don’t involve ditching your phone, dumping your social media, or giving yourself the guilts about doing something you like.
Raise the bar
Let your online time be quality time for your brain. If something you follow doesn’t regularly add something you value - like fun or wisdom - unfollow it. A quick clean-up of your social lists and feeds can make your browsing mindful and engaging rather than zombie-like.
Next time you’re scrolling through the dross in your newsfeeds that you always tend to gloss over — click the source and unfollow it. Don’t condition yourself to glaze over and skim rubbish as though you must. Take control and raise the bar on your feeds regularly.
Be a mindful user
Be aware of how your attention levels are travelling when you’re online.
Exercise deep self-awareness, so you can pull back before you hit a state of glazed ennui. Your attention is like a muscle and its up to you to keep it fit by directing it to stuff that contributes something to your life. Purposeless and bored, your attention muscle can get flabby, lost and sad.
Check your ‘Why’
Do you usually get out your phone when you’re feeling a certain way? Maybe when you’re lonely or bored, or wanting to escape?
It’s helpful to wonder what feelings you might be avoiding if you regularly zone out using a device.
Tune into other ways to potentially deal with those feelings. Before you had a phone, or if you don’t have it with you — what are some other ways you could manage boredom, sadness, loneliness, or whatever your phone might be helping you to avoid?
Having that knowledge in your back-pocket is important emotional intelligence. It’s healthier to be tech-interdependent rather than mindlessly dependent upon a device to stabilise your moods.
It’s a tenuous place to be in if you’re relying completely on any outside source to pick you up or keep you focused. Have other mood management options, and exercise them regularly too.
Become very discerning
Unsubscribe to any lists you’re on that you don’t love or need to hear from, and loosen up your inbox.
Is there a social platform or two you don’t really use or like anymore, that you could leave?
Are some of the apps and plugins you’ve downloaded truly helping you, or are they causing more grief and complication than if you didn’t have them?
Notice how the content you’re subscribed to leads you to feel. For example, do you feel good reading the celeb news or is that fluff you’d rather not see so often? In some cases, are you setting yourself up for soul destroying self-comparison by following highly curated stories, full of enhanced images? If so, unfollow. You can always check into gossip on your own terms, rather than signing up to be bombarded with narcissism.
Does the news give you anxiety? Unfollow. Look it up only when you wish to.
Force a nature break
Force the natural world on yourself if necessary.
Stretch your legs, imagine the top of your head being uplifted from above, removing the strain and pressure from your neck and spine.
Even if you don’t always feel like it, your mind and body need you to take a walk, stare at a flower, or a pond, or pat an animal. Look at the sky as well as screens, it keeps everything in perspective.
Consciously revisit your priorities
Social integration and good close relationships are a predictor of longevity. The greatest thing about our online connected-ness is that it can help us meet and stay in contact with people we might not otherwise know or see. The dark side is that it can blind us to the present moment and steal our attention from those who need us in the very same room.
You get to decide your own relationship and connection priorities and use your time and resources accordingly. Are you serving your priorities with your tech use, or working against what you value most by zoning out of your surroundings too often? You get to consciously decide. Guilt-free.
It’s cool to love your phone and your other devices. They make life better.
so long as they’re not obscuring parts of it you value the most. If you long to escape online so much it’s becoming hard on those around you, you’ve got to ask yourself what you’re seeking. Or avoiding.
What’s missing for you when you escape there?
How are you trying to feel?
How else can you get to feel that way, apart from through mediating devices?
Drop the guilt about checking your phone or using your computer, because guilt serves nobody. Just know why you make the choices you make so you’re in charge. If you’re like me, your devices are key parts of your life. They simply must be used mindfully to be helpful.
The key is to stay present in all your choices and actions. If you choose to do it, do it mindfully.
Be wary of the zoned out, zombie-state in every relationship, including the one you have with your devices. Life’s too short to not be fully present.
If you’d like more from Debra on mindfulness, life and relationships, check out Lovelands on Amazon.