What Do I Think About: Being Present (Presentness?)
Is it just me or has life become different since cell phones became popular? No I don’t mean in the sense that all of us can talk to anyone anywhere at anytime. I’m talking about the fact that no body lives in the moment anymore, I mean even my grandparents whom are almost 80 years old now have smartphones (yes they’re still working on figuring them out but that’s not the point). Since cell phones and smartphones in particular I have personally experienced a over-all drop in the satisfaction of doing things, just everyday things or stuff I used to be so excited to do. And whenever I sit back and think about why this might be I always realize “oh hey I got a text” or “I was checking my phone to see if I had any updates on instagram.” All I was really doing was just not being present. I see this all the time people in stores or restaurants on dates (you know who you are) and instead of talking genuinely and focusing on the person they’re with they are constantly checking their phones. Don’t get me wrong I was guilty of this, heck I was probably among the worst at this for a long while you could not get me away from my phone.
Something interesting happened to me a little while back, my phone started acting up and I had about a month left until my contract expired meaning that I could upgrade it with that short of a time I decided it could wait until then. Wow that first week was intense let me tell you, if you haven’t gone without your phone or tablet for a few weeks then you should try it (even if it’s just as an experiment). Talk about a revelation, you see I thought I might have a slight case of ADD because I had trouble focusing for more than a few seconds on any task which is basically the definition of attention deficit disorder. This turned out not to be the case, the simple fact of the matter was if something wasn’t instantly gratifying, say at work or walking down the street then BAM! out comes the phone and the instant gratification is in abundance. And just like training a dog to sit using treats, I realized that I had been conditioned to not pay attention or focus on anything except my phone and that easy reward of a satisfying post or message from a friend.
Week two without my phone I stopped even thinking about it really, I was enjoying everything around me much more and the fog in my head was starting to clear (that’s the best analogy I could come up with). I was talking with people… yes actually face to face, it’s more difficult than you would expect. I’d be sitting there talking fully present and focused on the conversation and then they’d pull out their phone, not for any reason, not because the conversation was boring, simply because that is what you do. I pointed this out to them and they didn’t even realize that they were on their phones, they had (without thinking) pulled out their phone and started scrolling. If that isn’t conditioning I don’t know what is. When I would suggest maybe turning the phone off until the conversation was over, well have you ever run over someones pet on accident and they gave you the look of horror? First off you’re a horrible person and just imagine that look and you’ll have a pretty good idea of the looks I was getting.
Since then I have a perfectly functioning phone again and I felt myself starting to fall back into the haze and the habit of not paying attention to real life so I deleted my social apps, de-cluttered my screens, blocked the internet on my phone so now it basically calls and messages (plus I have a few apps for learning new languages now that I have a lot of free time from cutting out those social media apps and accounts). I’m borderline ready to cut off my phone completely except for the fact that I need the gps some times and it’d be much harder to keep in touch with distant friends or relatives. The thought of paying 45 USD a month for something I quite frankly barely use and often leave in-between the couch cushions without even realizing it doesn’t sit well with me. Regardless of that I’ve been able to do much more including starting this website to help share my experiences and what I learn with all of you. I’m also signed up for several Udemy courses and I have plenty of time and will power to finally get into shape and experiment with different processes for healthier living.
All of this from just not doing social media and being present? Well essentially yes, I spend quite a bit of time working on this site but even with that I have a load of free time to follow other pursuits as-well. And quite frankly I didn’t think I spent much time on my phone or on social media recently when I cut it out pretty much entirely. I shudder to imagine what I could have accomplished in all that wasted time had I put it to good use. So what do I think? I think we need to slow down and focus on what’s important, to do this just think about what was important to you before you had a facebook, instagram, snapchat, or even a myspace (if that’s still around) and you’ll have a good point of reference as to where you should start.
Always keep Learning, Question the Norm