My phone used to be a distraction. It isn’t anymore.
People have a lot to say about smartphones and social media. Usually, they grumble about “shorter attention spans” and “shallow relationships” (as if these weren’t an issue before smartphones). Some will sheepishly admit to struggling with their phones and lament the time they’ve wasted staring into their glowing rectangle pacifier. But there’s one thing these folks fail to understand: the phone isn’t the problem. It’s the human using it.
We are in complete control of our phones. It’s amazing how in control of our phones we are. What we often fail to control is ourselves.
Breaking the habit of reaching for the phone first thing in the morning or immediately when a notification appears requires a measure of self-discipline. Smartphones should be thought of as digital multi-tools. We have tools for a reason. We use them with intentionality, to build, develop, or cultivate the world around us. Are we using our digital multi-tools, or are they using us?
My pacifier was social media and games. I’m one of those people who beat all of Angry Birds. Not just the first one; ALL of Angry Birds. Whenever I had down time, I reached for my phone and opened Facebook or Instagram. Hours flew by unnoticed. When I realized this and woke to the fact that I was the problem, I deleted my social media and game apps. Not only that, I took away my ability to download them or access socials on a web browser on my phone. Since then, my phone has ceased to be a distraction.
The mental space that I had cleared allowed me to see how much I control my digital diet. I purged my phone of every app that I didn’t use or thought I could stop using. For my socials (accessed from my laptop), I unfollowed everything and everyone that didn’t post things I wanted to see. If I didn’t know a person, I unfriended them. If I didn’t really like a certain brand, I unliked it. My feed became so much more relevant to who I was and where I was in life. And it was like a huge weight had fallen from my back. I hadn’t realized how much unhelpful stuff I was taking in as I casually scrolled through my day. The result was clarity.
I’m much more intentional now with my digital diet. I use Twitter now to follow and connect with people who inspire me and build me up spiritually. Facebook is for close friends and family only. I don’t use Instagram at all.
If you find yourself distracted by digital excess, here’s three things you can do today to help:
– Purge your phone of apps you don’t use
– Unfollow one brand you don’t support and one person whose posts don’t add value to your life
– Temporarily delete a social media app from your phone