Living Simply By Divorcing My Device
The beginning of April was tough, I finally said goodbye to an intense and all consuming relationship that just wasn’t very healthy for me. I’m on the other side now, I’m feeling lighter, happier, more free. But, for a while I was grieving, I was sad for his absence because he’s been by my side, day in day out for a long time. I missed him, I missed his intelligent mind, his night-time entertainment, I missed his compliments and his constant distractions, his useful directions and his ability to navigate. He was loyal to me, he was never anybody else’s. That being said, I knew it just wasn’t right, I new it had to end sooner or later, and April became the time to call it a day and finally get a divorce.
If you’re wondering who this mystery guy is. His name was Geoff. Geoff was actually an upgrade from Ian, he was taller, broader and took much better photos, and no unfortunately Geoff was not a photography hunk, he was and still is my iPhone. (I have a silly habit of naming inanimate objects, my car is called Nigel, the caravan is called Carol and I also have a conifer, his name is Brian.) Being married to Geoffrey is like being married to a bloke who talks none stop in your ear. I mean he’s in your ear 24/7 and insists on spending every waking minute with you and before you notice somewhere along the way, having geofrey yapping away in your lug all day becomes a comfort, he’s home and he’s something to listen too. Eventually, when he finally gives you a moments peace and goes to the loo or out with his friends you suddenly notice his absence and you feel a little lost, a little like you’re suddenly without your left arm. You feel a little vulnerable. Don’t worry though, pretty soon you begin to hear bird song and realise Geoffrey just talked absolute garbage anyway and wasted a big chunk of your life. You and me are both better off not married to geoffrey. Instead the relationship should be more akin to what they call friends with benefits. Use him when needed but no-longer depend on his very existence. Like all friends with benefits though, be careful not to let feelings for him creep back in.
With waving bye bye to Geoff, I’ve let go of the constant noise and distraction that comes along with the smart phone. I’m prioritising and appreciating the more simple but important things in life. Things that slowly shift out of focus when we’re constantly on our devices. Things like sleep, reading, observation, social connection and time completely unconnected from every Tom Dick, Harry and their dog.
A little more about my marriage
It’s only been a recent thing for me this phone reliance, before I started my blog I didn’t really have a relationship with Geoff, I only had 50 friends on Facebook and I wasn’t really in any habit of scrolling it mindlessly. The name Old Mother Hubbard really did suit me, I didn’t understand what a hashtag was and twitter and instagram were still completely alien to me, more often than not my phone was in one room and I was in another. I know fairly Stone Age for a millennial! How things change, fast forward a year and here I am, a self diagnosed instagram addict that can’t hear her other half asking about her day because she’s too deep into some strangers feed reading their captions from 2 bloody years ago.
I’m possibly being a little melodramatic, I wasn’t actually addicted too nor in love with my phone, I just became increasingly aware of the attention it occupied each day. A life where the device reigns and people come second is a life I really don’t want and I think we’re all guilty of it on some level. Have you ever been at a restaurant and seen a couple both on their phone? I see it all of the time and it makes me a little sad, even though I’m completely guilty of it myself. I panic we’ll wake up in a world where the only form of communication is through a smart phone.
The straw that broke the camels back was sleep. I marched to bed with the intention of getting an early night and found myself still awake at 2am absolutely shattered and still knee deep in youtube cat videos. I was mindlessly scrolling Instagram, then YouTube and even the online shops, It was one app after the other and I had absolutely no ability to stop. The next day with red puffy eyes and an irritable temper I said enough is enough. I’m changing this habit. Bye bye Geoff you distracting little plastic rectangle. This maybe sounds excessive to you but unfortunately for me I have an addictive nature so anything I do tends to border on the obsessive. You’re maybe not subjecting yourself to sleepless nights and your phone relationship is probably much healthier than mine, but, I’m still inclined to think it’s not entirely just me here who wastes time and energy mindlessly absorbing everything my phone has to offer.
Not only has my phone played havoc with my sleep, it’s also played a huge role in how I make other people feel. Have you ever been in a really interesting conversation with someone and their phone pings and you can instantly tell you’ve lost some of their attention? I have, It’s so frustrating! And I’m definitely guilty of this too, especially when talking to my poor parents, they must have been inwardly screaming at me. I'm also guilty of putting my phone on the table whilst having coffee with friends, I’m guilty of distracting myself whilst me and the Farmer are eating dinner and I’m also guilty of not listening to people because my head is actually mentally replying to an Instagram comment I’ve just noticed pop up.
People will say the phone isn’t the problem, social media isn’t the problem, it’s the issues I’m avoiding that’s the problem, my own insecurities and emotions, the phone is just the distraction and they’d probably be right, but, I’m not a trained psychologist and I’m certainly not going to pay for one. What I am going to do is just not use my phone as much. The habits are so everyday that I’m still catching myself being a little bit naughty but at least I’m much better than I was.
How To Divorce Your Phone
If you spend more time on your phone than you’d like here’s a few tips on how to wean yourself off…
Delete the app
Apps that help us avoid boredom such as e-mails and social media are always the first we go to in times when we’re twiddling our thumbs. They’re the first to become addictive and If you delete the apps you’ll quickly notice how reliant you are on them when you’ve got an unoccupied minute. You’ll mindlessly hover your thumb over where they used to be and realise. Also the inconvenience of using safari or google to get to Instagram will make sure you only check it only sparingly.
Move your phone charger
It’s common practice to have the phone charging on your bedside, try moving it to the other side of the room or even better, get an old fashioned alarm clock and charge it downstairs.
Leave it in your handbag or coat.
An on going challenge this one. In modern social situations it’s widely accepted for our phones to be in the conversation with us, no matter how rude it actually is. I want my friends and loved ones to know they come first, that’s why I’m trying to start a new social phone rule, it’s to be on silent, out of site and only used for consulting google to settle a debate.
Be a considerate passenger
On a long journey with your other half? The route Is just as long for the driver as it is for you. Swap your Facebook scroll for a game of I-Spy .
Try noticing when you’re reaching for your phone out of habit and challenge yourself not too.
There are actually lots of aps available that help us limit our phone use, some even restrict notifications so we don’t know we have a new comment, like or message. I’m sorry but I can’t comment or give you a list because I haven’t yet used any.
If you’re friends get mad at you for not replying the same day (unless obviously it’s something drastically important, in which case they could ring you) then they’re not worth replying to anyway.
Written with love
Old Mother Hubbard