Around July of last year, I had the misfortune (or not) of getting my iPhone stolen on the subway. Ok, maybe I dropped it, but that’s a different story.
I spent the rest of the summer without a smart phone, detaching myself from, my suddenly hard to ignore, phone addiction. And I must say, it was the most freeing experience I’ve had in a while.
There’s no question that advances in technology have made our lives significantly easier and more convenient, but following this experience I couldn’t help but find myself missing that phone I had circa 2006 that held two pictures and required me to lug around several other devices to capture a moment or listen to music.
Within the first week, I found myself engaged in an interesting conversation with a stranger while waiting for the subway. I carried around a book everywhere. I was happy to notice the simple nuances of being disconnected for once. I was experiencing the world with no buffer, no phone to shield me from awkward moments or help guide my way around the streets of New York.
As things go, my temporary, archaic phone was eventually replaced with an iPhone once again and, almost immediately, I felt a shift. As if this new, aware and present person I had become was beginning to chip away as the minutes ticked by glued to my phone.
After gaining so much perspective on the time lost using Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Tinder and all of these other apps throughout the summer, I was determined not to swipe (slip, fall) back into my old ways. I turned my push notifications off and called it a day.
I don’t really understand the urgency of knowing the exact second there is engagement with something I post on any form of social media. Sure, watching the “likes” pop up is satisfying, but is it worth the distraction and the anxiety? Is the gratification from a tiny heart really worth dedicating ten to thirty minutes of my life to, not including however long it took me to take and edit the photo to meet my social media alter ego standards?
How much can we really take away from gratuitous forms of social media anyway? If you don’t own a business or brand that utilizes social media, how much can you gain? The token of online popularity that many wear like a medal isn’t worth the time. While turning off your push notifications won’t entirely allow you to disconnect, it makes it a lot easier to remain present in the world around you, even if just for a little while.