I DID IT
Standing in the kitchen cup of coffee in one hand and my phone in the other, checking Facebook messages, Instagram, Twitter, interest one after the other moving from one to another without so much as a thought. Automatic. Mindless. Again. And again. I wake up in the morning, check my phone. I put my phone down, brush my teeth, wash my face and moisturize, make my coffee, and check my phone.
The past three weeks though while the coffee has been brewing, I have added meditating into my morning ritual. This has made me see some light in a way I hadn’t considered before. I finish meditating though and check my phone. Two days ago while I was checking my phone for God knows what, I came across an essay by Jake Knapp called Six Years with a Distraction Free iphone. And it got my attention. For the entire article. Mr. Knapp was reflecting on a particular day in his life when he was excited to be with his children building a train set that would require his time, his attention, his Presence. He had been looking forward to this date with his children for some time. In the middle of this precious moment, his son looked up at him and said, “Dad, why are you on your phone?” Not in an impatient frustrating way, but in a curious one. The funny and sad thing here was that Mr. Knapp didn’t even really know why he was on his phone scrolling nothing, distracted. He didn’t even really remember picking up his phone or why he did in the first place. This was one of those fork in the road moments. I see it everywhere. People at a beautiful dinner out with their families yesterday at my beloved Wayside Inn for the holidays, moms, children, grandmothers, siblings and Dad sitting at the head of the table in this pretty moment takes out his phone and starts scrolling, distracted, missing beautiful moments of his children kissing their grandmother unasked, hugging each other, laughing. People walking into an elevator and never looking up to even notice what floor has been selected.
His essay about phone, email and technology use ran familiar with me as I am often discussing my own connection. A connection that is entirely self imposed. I own my own business so there is no boss telling me that I have to respond at the speed of light to all of this incessant tech chatter. But you own a business! What about your clients! What if they need to get in touch with you?!!! I can hear my friends exclaiming. I think this is a pattern I have gotten myself into. I mean, really, this is not life or death here, I own a beauty business. Yes, I want to provide exceptional customer service, but I also want a life and I want my clients to have a life too. I want us to all stop the madness of perpetual tech addiction. It is frazzling our souls. I can feel it and surely I most feel it in my own soul.
So as soon as I finished his article. I went into my phone and deleted almost everything he suggested. And as he so brilliantly said, You can always put it back. And remember here, all of this stuff can be accessed on my laptop so I am not saying I am eliminating it from my life, just my phone life. So I deleted app after app, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Ebay, and almost every single tracking app I didn’t even know I had on my phone. Full disclosure here, I didn’t delete email or Safari though, I am not addicted to this. When people send me an email, I don’t get a “like” or a “high rated response time badge” to show the world that I am amazing. Email replying is on my own terms. And as far as google searching, I am not one of those people at a dinner party that pulls my phone out at the drop of a hat to GOOGLE THAT when someone can’t remember an important date or the name of a movie from yesteryear.
My problem that I didn’t know I had was the endless distraction of social media. I would go on Facebook to see if I had any messages from a client and that would lead me to check to see if anyone read my latest blog and that would lead me to scroll down to see what someone had said about something insignificant and a half hour of my life would disappear in a New York minute. I don’t know about you, but a minute of my life is way more important then it used to be. I don’t want to lose minutes without care.
As I mustered up the courage to delete and delete and delete, I am embarrassed to say this, my heart started to race and I began to feel anxious and panicky. And then I reminded myself, My new friend, Jake Knapp, said I could put them back if I couldn’t stand it. Am I listening to myself here? Panicky? Anxious? Over eliminating fifteen apps on a phone? Clearly I was making the right choice. For two hours I couldn’t believe how many times I went to check my phone only to discover that there was nothing to check. For those two hours I did something else, I straightened up my kitchen, took the trash out, put my folded clothes away instead of leaving them out for a week. Then like magic a day went by and today is day four and I haven’t missed a beat. And miraculous amounts of time have become available. To write, to cook, to send the letters I have been meaning to send, to decorate my house and put the candles in the windows I have been meaning to get to, to spend time with my aunt, and I feel in control of the way I choose to spend time.
I may miss events or replying to the endless social media events I am invited to or knowing that someone died or is sick in the hospital at the moment they checked in, I realize that the lapse in time could cause social isolation. This would be most ironic, but as I realize how incredibly fragile life is and is getting the older I am getting, I am willing to take the risk. I know that what serves my social soul is looking up and out, and if I miss something important because I didn’t look at my phone for a few hours, well then what has life become anyway? I choose choice in the mayhem. My own choice so let’s see if I am on to something here. Time will tell.