I bought my first mobile way back in 2004. Times have changed and so has the importance of mobile phones in our life.
Mobile phone is no more just a prized possession for us these days. It has evolved from being just a communication device to a multi-purpose gadget. A gadget that serves as messaging service, internet, radio, mp3 player, video player, calculator, camera and what not.
With the advent of the smartphones and the army of apps on it, it has turned into an ocean churning out information faster than the speed of light. This earth of information through internet available at the tips of our hand has more than 1.2 million terabytes (1 terabytes = 1000 gigabytes) of data at our bay.
On an average today we spend more than 10 hours per day watching, reading, listening or simply interacting with media. Fifteen years back it was merely 2 hours per day that too majority being spent on Television.
With these facts in place, are you not aware of the mess these electronic gadgets with their display screen are causing in our life.
The problem is not just limited to the adverse effect it has on our eyes. It also the major reason of sleep disturbances we have these days. It is being proved that it has become one major reason of mental problems with children of today. Read How badly can watching videos on TV or mobiles affect you and your children ?
The effect is not limited to our physical anatomy or the mental capacity of our existence. This dragon has turned its head to affect us socially by limiting our movements and hence the relationships.
The number of divorce cases being filed, the family relationships turning sour, age old friendships getting affected has exponentially increased over the past few years.
What is the reason?
The major reason is the screen time. Out of the total screen time majority is being spent on mobiles. On mobiles also the majority is being spent on the social media apps like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and others.
I am sure by now you have already got bored to death, reading this post full of information.
Let me make it a little interesting by telling you my recent experience.
Being a Life skills trainer I am, my role requires me to travel across the country for my various training workshops. A month back while I was travelling to Bangalore, I forgot to plug out my mobile from the cab’s charging point. The greed that must have set in, didn’t allow the cab driver to have that basic integrity to receive my call and return the phone to me.
I made a phone to my wife and told her about the incident. After minutes of trying to reach out to the cab driver, I boarded the flight without my mobile phone.
I was already feeling lighter, I guess.
After landing at the Bangalore airport, I up my wife and told that I have landed. I told her that I would call her next as soon as I reach the hotel. I did as I promised. Spoke for about two minutes and checked into the hotel. Thank god that even with such a damaging penetration of mobiles, hotels in India still provide the landline phones. At least they have one at the reception of the hotel.
My wife filed an FIR and I tried my level best to get through and speak to that cheat cab driver. But to no avail, I failed.
I had almost made up my mind to buy a new phone the very next day. But then I thought why should I do it in a hurry and decided not to.
I smartly managed to get hold of a desk phone at the venue and communicated with my work peers, through one of the numbers I remembered. In this era of saving the numbers by names on mobile phones, I realized it is wise to remember at least one work number without your mobile phone.
I returned back to the hotel and used the hotel’s reception phone to make a call to my wife. I cited the same reason to the receptionist that I had lost my phone I needed to communicate with my family back home in Delhi.
Without a phone I had spent the first day. Although my wife felt a little uncomfortable, as she could not reach out as and when she wanted.
But because I was keeping in regular touch and managing to speak with her every three hours, she could not complain.
In the morning I made a call from the hotel’s reception again and went my way for the day’s job. I managed to repeat the same routine successfully without any problem. Second day also passed by.
I realized that I was craving to check the notifications on my social media apps every now and then. But that happened only for the first two days. By the second day evening, I had overcome that craving. In the evening while I strolled down the market near the hotel, I was somehow feeling lighter. Trust me I had no craving for the phone, which I could have never felt had I not lost it.
On the third day when I again tried calling though the reception phone, the hotel manager objected. He sternly told me that he would not be able to help me anymore.
Feeling his helplessness I insisted to pay them for the call but he professionally refused stating that they don’t have any such provision. I felt like being forced to buy the phone now. I could not call my wife freely. She too insisted me to buy the phone. She said buy at least one of those cheap keypad phones, if I didn’t want to spend on a smartphone right now.
But by now I had started enjoying my stay without the dragon of disturbance, a phone with ever disturbing social media apps. I somehow convinced my wife that it is a matter of just four more days.
By the end of Day 4, where we could barely speak, I realized how important this device has become. I decided to go and check out a basic key pad phone. After spending an hour or so, and still not feeling like making a buy, I returned back to the hotel without buying one.
All this time I was not checking my social media handles on my mobile phone. Only once in the night on my laptop. that was when I saw an unread e-mail from my wife. She had asked if we could chat using Skype. I felt such an idiot at that moment.
With such an over indulgence and dependence on mobiles, it had completely skipped my mind.I could have used my laptop to do a video-chat with my wife using Skype.
Day 6 & 7
The last two days sailed along comfortably. I interacted with my wife and twins through video chat, morning and evening. During the day I continued to talk without any interruption from my work desk phone.
Finally I reached back home safely after seven days. That too without a mobile. I would not say those seven days were not at all troublesome, because they were.
But considering my takeaways from this experience, I think it was good that I lost my mobile phone.
My takeaways from this real life experience are
1. We should be careful while we travel and take care of our belongings. It is our responsibility. We cannot later blame someone else for our own carelessness.
2. While travelling even if we lose something as important as a mobile, we should not panic and complete our journey, especially if it is a flight or a train. We should not miss our train or a flight in that panic.
3. Although I lost my mobile but what I gained has forced me to write this blog. You can easily understand how fruitful that loss of a phone has become for me.
4. I learned how not to get overwhelmed by the monstrously affecting notifications of social media apps by keeping all notifications off. Instead interacting by replying to them later, in the slot I have put them to reply in.
5. Now I am able to better focus on my writing. I have realized the world will not come to an end if I don’t check my notifications every two minutes. Checking them after every three hours, that too only for a minute or so, would also be fine.
6. It is a sense of achievement for me. I have been able to reduce my screen time from at least 6 hours every day to 2 hours every day. That basically means I have 4 more quality hours that I can spend in any which ways.
7. Now I am been able to call and speak to people and hence socialize more because I have reduced my time on apps like WhatsApp and messenger.
8. Meeting at least ten people from my close friends list because I have more time now is a reality. I realized how badly I was losing on them because of these social media dragons in our life.
9. I have been able to sleep and rise on time because I have not been wasting time on social media apps till late in the night to promote my work.
10. Spending more time with my wife and kids is a reality. I feel more accomplished and happy.
Today I am using a phone with least number of apps and have a fixed time for checking my social media accounts, once in a day, late in the evening.
I don’t know whether my experience will affect you and your life in any way or not. Read How you can keep your children away from mobile phones?
But if it does, after you try restricting yourself from any such time-killing activities like giving unnecessary attention to the mobile phone screen, I would request you to leave a comment.
It would be great if you can share this to others as well.
In case you have been able to keep yourself off from these monstrous apps, before reading this post, I would request you to leave things you do.