One of the things that amuses me most about Americans (of which I am one) is how we blather on and on about “freedom” and then voluntarily give it up at every available opportunity. As long as we give it up in the service of commerce, rather than in the service of government, we seem to embrace the steady erosion of our rights, our health, our privacy, and even our minds.
After a decade of brainwashing that I need to have the latest and greatest gadget on my body at all times, I tried an experiment. A few weeks ago, I went to a conference and made the conscious decision to leave my cell phone in my hotel room safe each day. After a couple of days of fidgeting and feeling disconnected, I relaxed and returned to my pre-cell-phone state of attention and being-present. It was a really wonderful feeling. I picked up my messages after the conference each day and was able to be focused in how I returned and responded to those calls.
The moment the conference was over, of course, I went right back to being a cell phone addict.
Last night, I met a friend for dinner. I purposely left my cell phone at home, and surprise!, my attention was on her all throughout dinner. It felt kinda neat.
If you’re up for an experiment, try going 2 days without your cell phone. Pretend it’s a landline, leave it at home, make plans with people before leaving the home, etc. It actually produces a nice, high-quality evening. I’m starting to believe there’s an optimum convenience point. Too little convenience and life is drudgery. But too much and life becomes an endless stream of distractions/interruptions.
Hint: If your immediate response to this is “there’s no way I could ever do that,” stop and think again. You absolutely could. The fact that you’re so defensive about it and eager to justify not even trying has more to do with the symptoms of addiction that cell phones trigger than with reality. Just do it! You’ll survive!