I had it all figured out.
My iPhone was nestled in a bag of rice at home after an unfortunate incident with the toilet the night before, so I was phoneless for the morning. I meditated my way to work and wrote a Facebook post to show the world how mindful and enlightened I am. I mentally planned out a blog post that I would write later in the day about all the deep things we can learn when technology fails us.
And then, I proceeded to spend the rest of the day completely distracted and absorbed by setting up my replacement phone. The exact opposite of what I professed I would do.
I had piles of work to get done and yet over and over I found myself updating software so I could restore my latest backup. Despite knowing that GG’s daycare had my office number in case of emergencies, I became borderline obsessed with getting Whatsapp up and running. I spoke to the IT about WiFi settings (twice!), I googled why certain stages were taking so long. Time and time again I realized what I was doing and resolved to leave it for now and get back to work… and then before I knew it I was fiddling around with the phone.
I was the freaking opposite of mindful.
I knew I was doing it and yet somehow I was unable to get out of the loop. Looking back, it reminds me of when I used to smoke pot. All day I’d tell myself that I wasn’t going to smoke today. I’d plan a wholesome evening, meal, whatever. And then inevitably within a few minutes of getting home there’d be a joint in my hand.
I guess I’m more addicted than I thought.
Somewhere in the middle of all of this mindless muddle I went out for lunch with my boss and a colleague. At that point the phone had 8 minutes to go on the restore so I decided to leave it in my office. And of course as chance would have it, we got stuck out in a hailstorm and lunch turned into a two-hour affair. For two hours we chatted and ate – and every time there was a lull in the conversation the other two picked up their phones, checked email, commented on messaged and otherwise filled the void. And I felt high and mighty like a reformed addict, looking out at the weather and thinking deep thoughts.
Eventually we got back into the office and my mind left the building again. I was so close to getting the phone sorted out that it seemed a shame not to finish. By the time I headed home I felt like an absolute wreck. I finally had Whatsapp but what did it matter? I’d wasted an entire day.
What’s the lesson? I’m not interested in a life without an iPhone if that’s what you’re thinking. As soon as funds allow I’ll buy myself a nice shiny new one.
BUT – I am going to bring more mindful attention to how I use it. I already charge it in the other room overnight so it’s not the first thing I look at in the morning – now I plan to disconnect a little earlier in the evening too. Every time I catch myself mindlessly flipping through apps or scrolling through feeds I’m going to use it as a reminder to come back to the present moment. To take a deep breath and ground myself. To realize the nature of the addiction.
And most importantly – I’m not taking it to the bathroom with me anymore.
A few months ago I realized that scrolling through my social media apps on my iPhone wasn’t making me happier. I’ve been trying to be more intentional about how and when I use it now.
I won’t be giving mine up either—after all, it allows me to go outside or to a friend’s house with my kids and still answer pressing work emails—but this is a good reminder we should all be a little more careful about technology’s role in our lives.