Truth is most people are addicted to their smartphones. I may not have the data to back this up, but it’s easy to prove—take a look in your surroundings. I’m pretty sure most of them are using their phones even if they’re in the presence of family and friends.
They barely speak to each other, and if they do, they only give half of their attention because the other half is on their phones.
I loathe that.
I’m not criticizing them because I’m addicted to my smartphone, too. But, I try to avoid using my phone when I’m spending quality time with people. Let’s not forget respect, right?
Smartphones are convenient but their convenience is a double-edged sword. It’s a big distraction to us. We don’t know how to use it responsibly. And by that, I mean people use it not when they need to but when they want to—and they want to use it all the time to get rid of boredom.
We’ve Forgotten How to Get Bored
Boredom has become a lost art. Before the advent of smartphones getting bored was inevitable. But people found ways to entertain themselves. As 90’s kids, my siblings, cousins, and I got bored. Every time we got bored, we thought of something new to do, new game to play.
I remember my third sister and I pretended to find Blue’s pawprints around the house like Blue’s Clues. And in school, when most of the students have left, she and I would run around the school while waiting for our dad.
Because the truth is there’s no such thing as boredom. Boredom is nothing but a loss of creativity, and us, 90’s kids came up with creative things to not get bored.
Since the release of smartphones, boredom became another word in the dictionary. The little devices in our pockets kept us entertained wherever we are, whatever we’re doing, whoever’s with us. It keeps us entertained 24/7 even when we’re doing something else. The irony. Smartphones are like mythological sirens that lure us to the beeps of notifications.
The Beginning of My Journey
Early this year, I removed the Messenger app from my phone because it’s the most distracting app for me. Every time I felt bored, I’d scroll throughout the app and look for someone to chat with. I didn’t need to catch up with them; I just needed to be entertained.
From what I remember, I said I’d re-install it when I need to connect with someone. I was doing great at first. I uninstalled and reinstalled it then I forgot my goal. Oh, well, from failures you learn, as I’d like to say.
I told myself I’d disconnect for a week after the wedding to breathe and detox.
It took me a month to follow through with that plan. Two weeks ago, I asked D to change my password, so I wouldn’t be able to access the app on my phone. Although I can access Facebook on my laptop, I’ve somehow disciplined myself to stop checking the notifications. I guess that’s how badly I want to disconnect from.
The original plan was a week, but I’ve gotten used to not being reachable like Napoleon. It was said that he wouldn’t open letters until after three weeks the letters arrived. He knew the problems would be resolved. If the message was critical, the sender would visit him to discuss it in person.
Freeing Myself from the Smartphone Handcuff
Today, I’m freeing myself from my smartphone addiction. I might not be addicted to browsing social media, but I’m addicted to using it to entertain myself. When I’m bored, I’d look for podcast episodes related to my mind’s topic of the day. Topics can vary from personal growth, relationships, parenting, health, and digital marketing. I’m getting too much input, and my need needs a fvcking break.
Start With Why
Two weeks before turning two, Little O put a broken Nokia phone on her ear and said “Hello, Tita Apple, kamusta ka?” (Translation: Hello, Aunt Apple, how are you?)
I believe she sees too much of us using our phones that she thinks it’s normal—it’s not.
She’s the reason I want to commit to this. There’s no denying that gadgets are ubiquitous. These have become an expensive “toy” for kids, but I want her to experience boredom. I want her to find ways to cure boredom. I want her to play. I want her to explore. I want her to enjoy her childhood the way I enjoyed mine.
The best way to influence her is if she sees her parents use their phones responsibly. If she sees that we’re not glued to our smartphones, she might not get too interested in it.
Because kids don’t listen. They copy what they see from their parents. So, if I want her to use less tech, I should, too.
Bringing Atomic Habits Lessons to Life
As much as I’d like to get myself a flip phone or a “dumb phone”, I can’t because smartphones are convenient! I can book a car, pay the bills, and shop by tapping on the screen.
I’ve failed before, but I’m approaching it in a different this time around. I’m applying the things I learned from Atomic Habits.
The second law of breaking a bad habit is to add friction to make it difficult. So, I’m making life inconvenient for me!
I removed all “entertaining” apps like Spotify, Netflix, Lazada, and LinkedIn, and I installed them on my tablet. I also removed functional and non-addictive apps like Google sheets (nerd) and Freeletics. removed entertaining apps like Spotify, Lazada, Freeletics. Spotify was the hardest to remove. cry I like listening to podcasts when I’m bored, but hey, that’s the goal, right?
If I don’t remove Spotify, I’ll go down the smartphone rabbit hole.
I set limits for apps that I can’t remove and can’t uninstall.
The only distracting I app I didn’t remove is Instagram because I use it for work. I don’t think I’m addicted to it, but maybe I’m in denial.
I can’t uninstall default Google apps like Chrome and YouTube, so I set up a 30-minute time limit for each app.
What I’m Expecting to Happen
I get to free myself from my smartphone cuffs. I’m going to be more present to Little O. I’m going to sleep earlier. I get to be more intentional with how I’ll be spending my time.
What I’m Hoping For
I’m hoping to influence D into using less tech because I don’t want to nag him into doing it. I’m hoping for Little O to learn to love STEM even with the tech limitations I’m setting for her. I’m hoping more people keep their phones in their pockets whenever they’re with people they love.