This Is the Terrible Effect Your Phone Has on You

Auriane Alix
You’re here and suddenly, poof… Not here anymore.
Photo by Becca Tapert on Unsplash

Check e-mails, consult Instagram, consult Facebook, reply to text messages, and go back to e-mails. This loop has become a reflex every time we are faced with a moment of emptiness. Every time we wait for friends. Every time we stand in line. Whenever we are alone at a terrace, drinking coffee.

We have become incapable of managing the discomfort of a moment of floating, of waiting, of in-between.

“The cell phone has become the adult’s transitional object, replacing the toddler’s teddy bear for comfort and a sense of belonging.” — Margaret Heffernan

We can no longer simply stay here, in the present moment. We run away and take refuge in this fake, digital world. Acting this way has become normality. I understood this the day I started to change.

I could no longer bear the constant presence of my phone in my life. I could no longer bear to be suspended from my notifications, from the vibrations in my pocket. I could no longer tolerate the reflex of taking my phone out when I had absolutely nothing to do with it.

When I was alone, waiting for an appointment or sipping a cup of coffee, I would now sit and do nothing. I would be present in my reality. In the present moment. I would observe the world around me. I would let my thoughts wander. And I was soon confronted with a strange phenomenon.

People would come to see me with worried faces and asked me with concern:

“Are you okay?”

When several people in a row did the same thing, I understood: staying idle, simply there, alone, had become bizarre. You are expected to be busy. On your phone.

By ending this relationship with my phone, I discovered something crucial. What our phones do to us.

I’ve gone from 3+ hours a day scrolling through Instagram to less than 20 minutes of screen time

It started with a feeling of sickness every time I touched my phone. It produced a kind of weight in my head, in my mind. When I checked the statistics calculated by my phone, I understood why.

I was spending over 3 hours a day staring at my phone.

My relationship with it had become unhealthy. I was stunned. How could I waste so much time every day? How could 3 hours slip so easily into an endless scrolling?

I thought of all I could do with 3 more hours a day. It was time for a change. I set limits. I cut off the reflex of picking up my phone every time I had a moment of emptiness. Every time I caught myself grabbing it, I asked myself: “Why am I going to check my phone? What am I looking for?”

My addiction slowly decreased. Now I only spend 20 minutes a day on my phone.

I feel more here. More focused. Freer.

This is what your phone is stealing from you

“Life is what happens when your cellphone is charging”
— Unknown

When you pick up your phone, you immerse yourself in a virtual world that attracts your full attention. It sucks in reality and distances you from it. And it robs you of something precious and crucial: the ability to let your thoughts wander.

Have you ever tried to be more attentive? To your moments, to your relationships, to your choices and decisions, to your life? I do. I am in search of feeling more in this world. To be here, fully and totally.

Mindfulness takes time.

You have to immerse yourself in reality and open your eyes to it. Your phone makes this impossible.

To be fully present, you have to stay still for a while. As the minutes go by, you will begin to feel more and more how alive and vivid the world around you is. Every time you pick up your phone, you interrupt the process, and you have to start all over again. This means that these days, we are never fully present anymore. And I guess that’s where the burden I felt comes from.

Your thoughts need to wander. Your ideas need to blossom. Your mind needs to rest. With a phone in your hand, all this is made impossible.

Stillness is the solution and the answer

“The answers you seek never come when the mind is busy, they come when the mind is still.”
— Leon Brown

Remove your dependence on your phone and you will have more time to live: to read, to exercise, to rest, to meet with your loved ones. You will have time to think about your next big project or idea. You will be more creative, as your ideas will develop and mature in the back of your mind.

You will feel much more balanced, physically, and mentally. You will bring back into your life the balance that comes from doing nothing and staying still, which you no longer had with your phone constantly in your hands.

The less I touched my phone, the more I felt a reconnection to the world. Our phone puts us in a bubble. Once you put it aside, you can feel the world opening up to you. The longer you wait and the more you observe the feeling, the more vivid it becomes.

I still sometimes catch my hand reaching for my pocket. Every time this happens, I ask myself “why”. And the simple fact that I have to ask myself the question brings the answer: nothing.

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