Mobile phone, ever since the first one I held in my hand in 2004 to this day in 2019, is no more just a prized possession for us these days. It has evolved from being a communication device to a multi-purpose gadget with 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, which 15 years back was merely 2 hours per day that too majority being spent on Television.
With these facts in place, I am sure you must have read at least one article, which talks about the mess these electronic gadgets with their display screen are causing in our life. Now the problem is not just limited to the adverse effect it causes to our eyes and hence the sleep disturbances, it is being proved that it has become one major reason of mental problems in the children of today. Beyond affecting the physical anatomy and the mental capacity of our existence, the 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 that 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, reason being there is nothing exciting in this blog so far, just plain facts and figures.
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 the IGI Airport, New Delhi to board a flight 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 called back home to inform my wife that I have landed and told her that I will call back once again 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 provides 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 somehow manage to get through and speak to that cheat cab driver. But to no avail, sadly I failed.
I had almost made up my mind to buy a new phone the very next day, after I get through my training workshop. But then I thought why I should do it in a hurry and decided otherwise. While at the venue where I was facilitating the workshop, I smartly managed to get hold of a desk phone there and communicated with my work peers, through one of the numbers I remembered. In this era of saving the numbers by the names on mobile phones, I realized it is wise of you, if you remember at least one work number without your mobile phone. I returned back to the hotel and used the hotel’s reception pone to make a call to my wife. I cited the same reason to the receptionist of my phone being lost and that I needed to communicate with my family back home in Delhi. Day one without phone was over, 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.
Day 2 in the morning I made a call from the hotel’s reception again and went my way to the venue of the workshop. I managed to repeat the same routine and successfully without any problem passed my second day as well. 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 imagined till I lost it.
Day 3 in the morning while I tried repeating what I did for the first two days, the hotel manager, objected and categorically told me that he would not be able to help me anymore. I insisted that I can pay them for the call but he professionally refused saying that they don’t have any such provision. I felt that I was being forced to buy the phone now. I could not call my wife in the morning and could only do so when I reached my place of work. 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, when our communication was getting adversely affected because of this so important device in our life, I decided to go and check out a basic key pad phone. After spending an hour or so, and realizing that it is just a sheer waste of money, I came back to the hotel without buying one.
All this time while I was not checking my social media handles on my mobile phone, I was checking all the notifications, once in a day, in the night on my laptop. I happen to check an e-mail my wife had sent, in which she has asked if I 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, that I could use my laptop to do a video-chat with my wife using Skype.
Day 6 and Day 7 sailed along comfortably. I interacted with my family, 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 for all seven days.
I reached back home safely after seven days and that too without a mobile. I would not say that 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. 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 must have 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. I have been able to focus a lot more on my writing because I realized that 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. My screen time on mobile I am sure has reduced 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. I have been able to call and speak to people and hence socialize more these days because I have reduced my time on apps like whatsapp and messenger.
8. I have physically met at least ten people from my close friends list because I realized how badly I was losing on them because of these monstrously affecting social media dragons in our life.
9. I have been able to sleep on time and get up on time because I have not been wasting time on social media apps till late in the night to promote my work.
10. I am able to spend more time with my wife and kids and hence feel more accomplished and happy.
Today I am using a phone with least number of apps and have framed time for checking my social media accounts once in a day, late in the evening.
I don’t know if this experience will affect you and your life in any way or not. But if it does, after you try restraining yourself from any such unproductive, time-killing activities like giving unnecessary attention to the mobile phone screen, I would request you to leave a comment.
If you have already been able to keep yourself off from these monstrous apps, and are able to keep a work-life balance, I would still request you to leave a comment, citing your experience.