Blah. For the past few months I’ve felt more addicted to my phone than ever. Tweets, Snapchats, Instagram posts, not to mention the Netflix app to watch TV and HuffPost, Skimmin, Rue89, and Gothamist apps I use to read my news every few hours, my phone’s camera I use to take snapshots for social media, and VSCOcam to edit those pictures, and of course, Facebook messenger to keep in contact with international friends, and that’s just my data package. Then we have text messages, phone calls, setting alarms and reminders, and worst of all for me, refreshing my email inbox.
It’s to the point where I even feel myself rolling my eyes AT MYSELF when I go to unlock my phone, like why do I need to constantly check notifications or emails or whatever. I don’t; because most of the time there’s nothing new and I’m using it as a diversion to something in the real world: boredom on the subway, boredom in bed, boredom at work. I tend to be good about these kinds of things, like realizing the world is more than screens and tweets and photos, and that we survived without them just a few years ago, as every generation older than us millenials feels to need to constantly remind us.
But then I play devil’s advocate and ask myself why there is such a stigma behind being on our phones when doing a lot of these things through a screen are 10x more convenient. It doesn’t mean more to my life whether I’m reading the news from a screen or from a newspaper, or using a bulky digital camera instead of my iPhone, or having to pay to talk to international friends on the phone instead of just calling through the my phone’s internet – doing these things otherwise would just be as if we’re adding an unnecessary, outdated step.
And if I’m on my phone as a solution of boredom, again, why do I feel annoyed that I’m on phone? Would I rather just be bored? No.
And then I stopped into a coffee shop and noticed a few things. The problem is not that I’m using my phone to pay for my tall Americano or read breaking news while I wait in line. It’s when I sit down and notice the groups of friends who were silent on their phones. It’s when the group of friends who, when they finally do decide to talk to each other, choose to gossip about who unfollowed them on Twitter. It’s when they idolize celebrities on Instagram and wish they could have their lifestyle. It’s when they Snapchat a friend elsewhere asking what they’re doing. It’s when they decide to take a selfie of their “fun coffee date.”
It’s when your virtual life starts affecting your real life.
This is why I feel so annoyed at myself. Most of the time, when I tell myself I’m “bored,” I’m not actually bored. When I have a minute of free time, I go straight to my phone checking notifications, catching up on the latest buzz, or reading up on friends’ statuses. My mind sees I have nothing to do and automatically thinks: go on your phone, you’ll have lots of things to do. This is what needs to stop. We don’t need to constantly be stimulated. We need to give ourselves some time to digest and take a chill pill. This is why the days we go without our phones, at first make us feel empty, but then make us feel more alive. We finally force ourselves to stop scrolling and start doing.
We spend less time staring at a screen for unnecessary reasons and more time talking about topics that matter, more time learning about things we’ve been wanting to learn, more time exploring and admiring the cities we live in, more time being active and living a healthier lifestyle. Our days become more worthwhile. Our lives have more oomph.
And it would be hypocritical for me to say that looking at screens is the antithesis of living life, since you’re literally scrolling on this page, but there’s a difference between scrolling just cuz and scrolling because you think this may add value and serve a purpose in your life. It’s about doing things out of purpose, and not simply defaulting to zombie mode and mindlessly going straight to your phone. I appreciate that you’re reading this and hopefully finding inspiration, which will then lead you on to live a more meaningful life with more oomph.
And if this all sounds like common sense to you, then great, but for the people who are reading this and realizing they may be that person at the dinner table checking Twitter, or chatting about all the he said she said that goes on in our Facebook timelines, let this post be a reminder that there is more to life than screens.
Stop scrolling, start doing.