Good morning! It’s finally Friday! And it’s sunny! What did we do to deserve such good fortune? I don’t know. Let’s just enjoy it.
I have decided to turn my phone off for 24 hours, as of 9am today. On the one hand, this is a pretty big decision that will have an impact on my ability to contact people, check the time and look up travel plans, but on the other hand, it’s just a phone and it’s not going to kill me. Let me walk you through this seemingly random decision, and then see whether you might want to do the same thing:
My friend Andy told me recently that I seem to be really, really busy for someone who doesn’t go to work. And he’s right. (Let’s brush over the fact that I tend to work in my pyjamas, ok?) The point is that I genuinely do have stuff to get on with, and having my phone on my desk is just a distraction. You’re a busy person with a lot of stuff to do too, aren’t you? Exactly. Imagine how much more efficiently you could work without your phone in the corner of your eye.
Speaking of work, lots of my friends have several email, Twitter and Facebook accounts synced on their phones (because of all the theatre company stuff we get up to, you see), so whenever anything happens on one of those, we feel the need to respond immediately. However, I have made a life-changing discovery: we don’t have to do that.
If your work comes down to email messaging (i.e. you’re not a doctor, fire fighter, etc.), then it’s really not that urgent. Don’t be fooled into thinking that you have to work at the same speed as technology all of the time. You don’t have to stop walking in the middle of the street to reply to a message, or halt a pleasant conversation to check your emails.
Which leads me neatly on to the next problem I have with phones: what the crap have they done to our social skills? It has now become acceptable to get out your phone and tinker with it if you are in a large group conversation, feeling a bit shy or just bored while your friend is talking to you. (I have a friend who does that quite a lot, and I won’t name and shame, but you know who you are. Stop doing that.)
There’s a bit in the first Bridget Jones book where she complains about the passive-aggressive role of the telephone in dating, i.e. that getting home to find messages on your machine means that you are loved, beautiful and popular, whereas having no messages means that you will die alone and be eaten by Alsations.
Sometimes we have the same problem with mobiles, don’t we? The immediate response thing is an emotional issue as well as a work one: when our friends and beloveds don’t reply to texts straight away we feel wounded and wronged. Let’s take a day off from that.
I’ve just started reading the His Dark Materials trilogy, and it strikes me that we tend to see our mobile phones the same way the characters in the novels see their daemons: embodiments of our souls which we cannot emotionally or physically bear to be parted from. They’re not. They’re just phones.
I know that mobile technology makes life a lot easier, but I also know that I was perfectly fine for fourteen years before I even heard of mobile phones. Our phones do not rule our lives or define who we are. We exist without our phones, and we are actually far more interesting without our faces glued to them.
Have a record-breakingly good Friday.