The average American checks their phone more than 150 times a day.
Can you believe that? That number seems insanely high, but then again, everywhere I go I see foreheads illuminated by screens.
Our culture’s obsession with technology affects our ability to have any sense of balance in our lives. And all too often, nonstop screen time takes our attention away from the important moments around us.
If we don’t figure out how to put our freaking phones down, we are going to know everything about everyone else’s lives but totally miss out on the amazing people and experiences right in front of us.
I struggle with this daily, just like you. So recently, I tried something that’s actually helped with my habit of checking my phone repeatedly. It’s nothing complicated or difficult.
It’s just a simple question.
It helps me to not only put things into perspective, but also to put down my phone when I am with family, friends or coworkers.
I ask myself this: “Is it more important that I know what the outside world is doing right now, or is it more important that I experience what I am doing right now?”
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The question almost always answers itself.
This works when you’re mindlessly scrolling Twitter while waiting for food with your spouse at a restaurant or when you’re perusing Facebook in the grocery store line while your child is trying to get your attention.
Even if you’re just enduring something mundane, when you are with family and friends, they matter more.
One of the most tempting and easily justified times to be on my phone is when I’m taking a picture or posting something online myself. Posting photos and updating statuses isn’t a bad thing, but sometimes I find myself missing everyday moments because I’m so busy trying to document them.
It’s not just me either. If you go to a concert, you’ll see thousands of people watching a live concert in person (that they paid for) through a tiny screen on their phone to capture it.
But we don’t just capture it. After we capture it, we have to write a clever caption. Then we have to post it. And the moment we upload that Instagram picture or Facebook post, we push over the first domino in a series.
The next domino is a notification that our old high school friend Amber likes our post. How is Amber? I haven’t thought of her in years. I heard she moved to California . . .
Then there’s another notification. It’s John. His comments are always so clever and witty! It’ll just take a second to respond.
What started as a moment with family or friends turned into a photo, then a post, then a notification—and the dominoes keep falling.
And we get halfway through the concert or dinner only to realize the entire first half was spent staring at a screen and completely missing out on the moment that we’re in.
A similar question works in these situations as well.
“Is it more important that the outside world knows what I am doing right now, or is it more important that I experience it myself?”
If I ask this simple question when I’m tempted to pick up my phone, it gives me some perspective.
Life balance isn’t easy, but with a little less phone time and a little more perspective, we can all be more present for the most important people, moments and memories happening right in front of us all year long.