Opinion: Why you should get off your cell phone every once in a while

Aug 11 2017, 2:03 am

Twelve years ago I got my first cell phone.

A relic of the past, my 2005 LG flip phone’s most exciting feature was the ability to set alarms and change the wallpaper to one of 20 preset photos.

A few short years later and the world was onto bigger and better things, keeping with the times, I had another flip phone (a Sony Erikson) equipped with SimCity, a music player, and one of the first ever cell phone cameras.

Fast-forward to the present, and we all have micro computers fighting for our time.

Group on phones/Shutterstock

The result is obvious, as we become increasingly connected to our phones we become more disconnected from real life.

Think of that guy from the last concert you went to, the one who watched the whole show through his cell phone screen. When did getting an iPhone-quality recording become more important than watching the show straight on?

I’m all for technology and agree phones are essential to modern living. All I’m saying is maybe for an hour or so each day we need to disconnect and spend some time living in the moment.

Yes, that means no Instagram, Facebook, photo editing, Snapchat, and so on. Here are a few reasons why we need to step back from technology every day.

We shouldn’t feel uncomfortable when our phones aren’t around



We’ve gotten to a point where people feel uneasy with nothing to do. How dare you sit on a bench at the mall people watching as shoppers walk by. To avoid the discomfort, we end up staring at screens, and either scrolling through Facebook feeds, pretending to text, or surfing Reddit to entertain us.

Forgetting your cell phone becomes the most uncomfortable part of your whole day. Not having it around to entertain you during the lulls creates a feeling of disease that motivates many to drive all the way back home just to be reunited again with that faithful little distracting device.

Take time to prioritize moments instead of artificial memories


Focusing on your phone takes away from almost every experience you take part in. I can’t count how many times I’ve been on a hike, or at an event and started posing people in different positions to create a memory that would never have occurred naturally. I can guarantee you the pictures of Instagrammers candidly laughing in front of mountains or beaches are almost all meticulously staged not miraculously captured.

Besides the poses, Instagram and Snapchat distort our perceptions of what places actually look like. Yes, you can go to Joffre Lakes and take a stunning photo of you alone on that classic fallen down tree. But zoom out, and you’ll see dozens of other people (many probably lined up for the same log shot) living in the moment with you. Tone down the colour enhancements, and you’ll see that turquoise lake is a lot more muted than it appears to be.

So go ahead and keep taking banging photos, but don’t forget to look at the bigger picture. Savour the experience and make it about something more than pictures; walk around, talk to other people, enjoy the place you’re in without having a camera phone in front of your face.

Face to face time is more important than Facetime

Group of people standing in line and looking at their smart phones – iStock

Speaking of faces, while Facetime is pretty cool, we need to prioritise the people who are actually standing in front of us. It’s easy to call someone back, and it’s worth it because acknowledging the person in front of you is always the polite thing to do.

Big news is more exciting when spoken not texted



Emojis don’t cover the whole spectrum of human emotions. Big news deserves to be shared in person and waiting a few hours or even days to tell someone something face to fact will elicit a much better reaction than a simple text could suffice.

Talking in real life is healthy for your relationship



If you spend every moment texting your partner about your day what are you going to have left to talk about after work? Going back to the last point, if you want more feedback than a simple “that’s nice honey” why not wait to talk about it over dinner.

Discover your actual self, don’t build your online persona



When you spend your day on social media, often you’re building your online persona rather than taking the time to reflect and discover your true self.

Yes, it’s totally cool that your Twitter self is a witty brainiac constantly armed with an ironic political viewpoint. But the real life you might also love soccer, or books, or the occasional persona challenging position.

If you spend too much time building up your online image, you may start to ignore your multi faceted actual self. Don’t do everything for the Gram or for your however many Twitter followers. Do things that contradict your image and things that are privately and solely just for you.

Above all try putting your phone down, even if it’s just for a few minutes. It’s a simple act that could have a huge impact on your life.

Sam SchonewilleSam Schonewille

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