Last weekend, I spent some time on eBay searching for a used LG EnV2…does anyone else remember that cellphone?
It came in maroon, had a keyboard, TWO screens. I didn’t have a cellphone back when the Motorola Razr was highly coveted..but I was borderline obsessed with the EnV and flipping through listings for it felt so nostalgic. For a mere $20-$50, I could once again hold that piece of my teenage years.
…but why would I want to do that?
It would make internet use pretty tricky, I wouldn’t be downloading apps, the picture quality would be terrible, I’d only be able to text so many characters at a time, no gps, no imessaging, can it even group text? I don’t know, but that was the point. I crave something simpler, something less likely to rob me of my precious time. The smartphone and its endless array of apps are perfect at requiring our attention often.
We see it EVERYWHERE-people hunched over a 5 inch screen. It’s almost strange to see people that are not glaring into that virtual world. And why wouldn’t we?
On Facebook, I’ve got hundreds of friends. But next to me right now? I’ve got a sleeping baby and he doesn’t interact much. Let’s just be honest, there’s something about that cropped and filtered lands on our phones that feels more enjoyable than real life. It’s real life, the edited version. And when I enter that world, I’ve got a chance to interact with countless people. It’s an introvert’s dream.
Yesterday during my hourly scroll of Facebook, I caught a video a friend shared that mentioned how pathetic it is that if we are out to dinner with someone and they leave to use the restroom, we have this almost uncontrollable impulse to pick up our phones. It makes us feel less alone, it saves us from having to sit there in the moment. With a simple click, we enter a whole new universe.
So back to it..why was I searching for a lesser quality alternative to my iPhone? Because I have a love-hate relationship with this piece of equipment. Sure, it adds lots of convenience to my life, but perhaps even more so, it’s stealing my life away minutes at a time.
I notice it mostly with my husband. Someone needs something from him urgently, so they send him a text. “Bzzzz” Luca turns his head, I roll my eyes, and my husband, who is just trying to do what he needs to, leaves us for a moment via that 5 inch screen, and escapes to a conversation with whomever has summoned him.
I don’t say this to pick on my husband-we ALL do this. I do this! But I say it because in those moments, I’ll just admit it, I feel lousy! It’s not that I need his constant attention, but as these little interruptions invade our family time, we lose our opportunities to have meaningful conversations, to get heavily involved in a game of pretend with our kids, to just enjoy each other’s company-because were too busy being constantly accessible to the outside world. It’s like ALWAYS being in a crowd with people popping into our conversation. Naturally, I notice it less when I’m the offender, but often when I’m the victim.
We’ve always tried to be mindful of who/what gets our attention during family time. But anymore, it’s almost a necessary part of existing. That text cannot go unanswered, that content cannot go unposted.
I read an interesting article that pointed out how most couples check their phones first thing in the morning, instead of rolling over to say “good morning”. That’s true for me.
Instead of watching tv together, we scroll through endless feeds that allow us to be apart of everyone else’s lives. I don’t know what my husband is thinking in a moment, but I know what Susan had for dinner.
Once upon a time, interacting with the outside world involved sitting on a computer, which I think made it more obvious to the user when they were not “emotionally” present because they were not physically present. But now, We miss out on opportunities to “just be” together because even being together includes cradling our most precious possession-our phones.
And that applies to a lot of different relationships-even friends.
It has occurred to me, that I find it overwhelmingly important to have a few, quality friendships-in favor of the 200 acquaintances on social media(who are usually trying to sell me something anyways).
In talking to my husband, he asked specifically what friendships of mine would suffer if I were to go without social media. I listed a lot of names. Would I really lose that many “friends”?
Truthfully, if a friendship hinges on virtual contact, I’d venture to say that neither party cares enough about the other.
I have a couple of really great friends, and my hiatus’ from social media have never cost me our friendship.
Even still, I’d like to have more deliberate friendships-ones that depend on coffee dates, shopping trips, and the occasional phone call-not whether or not we “liked” each other’s social media content.
I also think about my kids.
My son knows that there is something desirable about holding a phone in his hand. He’s always trying to get it from me. I don’t want his memory of childhood to be his parents being constantly available to the rest of the world. I want our children to feel that they’ve received our full attention as often as life has allowed it.
So my family is on a bit of a journey right now to restructure our cellphone use. My husband talked me down from buying an EnV and deactivating my iPhone, though if it comes to that, I think I’d be willing!(maybe even excited).
It’s challenging of course, because we use them for so much. My husband and I often use it to count calories and track the foods we are eating-an incredible benefit that unfortunately still involves staring blindly into that 5 inch screen and still leaves the rest of the room feeling neglected.
But I wonder-what could I accomplish if my phone was not my constant companion? How REAL could my interactions with people be if they happened in person instead-if my desire to socialize was forced to occur outside in the virtual world? How many books could I read for entertainment? How much could I paint? How much more could I do with my kids? How much could my marriage improve if more of my focus was on my husband? How much would my self-care habits change(because oftentimes, de-stressing means diving headfirst into the content the rest of the world has posted online)?
I don’t know. But I’m looking forward to ridding myself of the bulky 5″ screen in my pocket. I’ve spent most of the last few days with my phone in a drawer during the day, and it’s felt so refreshing. I’ve been much more deliberate about my phone use. So if you see me fading from social media-this is why.
And yes, I promise that if I do end up buying an old “basic” phone, I’ll share a classic mirror selfie w/ it. 😉