Let’s face it: we’re all addicted to our smart phones. These days, it’s rare to walk into a waiting room or a subway car and see even one person who isn’t looking down at the screen in their hand, and it’s even less common to find someone who doesn’t own an iPhone or an Android at all.
I’m the first to admit that I’m addicted to my phone. It’s my connection to the outside world, and it makes me feel good to see my follower count go up, or receive a text from my friend, or a Snapchat from my boyfriend.
Not only does my phone often feel like a feel-good channel for positive vibes and love, but it’s also how I gain inspiration and fodder for my daydreams. At any given moment, I can hit Instagram or Safari and check out some gorgeous pictures of exotic locales like Hawaii or Bali, or I can live vicariously through some travel blogger’s feed.
It’s no wonder that this hot little box stays glued to my hand 24/7. It’s become a source of major anxiety to be separated from my phone, and I find myself checking it constantly.
I know I have an addiction, but in an effort to see just how addicted I am, I downloaded the app Break Free, which formulates an “addiction score” based on the time you spend looking at your phone and the number of times you unlock your screen during the day.
In one day, my addiction score was off the charts at 140. I had unlocked my phone 97 times and I had been on my phone for a grand total of four hours and 34 minutes throughout the day–and it was only 4:30.
Boy, was this eye-opening! I knew I was on my phone a lot, but I didn’t think I was on it basically non-stop. Between checking Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, email, texting, and using the utility tools like calendar and notes, my phone addiction had risen to seriously unhealthy levels, and I had barely even noticed it.
This got me thinking: am I going to spend my entire life looking down at a screen? Phones aside, I’ve been looking at television and computer screens for most of the day since a very young age, and I’m convinced that my eyes have suffered as a result (I’m nearsighted and need glasses to see distances clearly). So even when I’m not looking at my phone, I can’t see the world around me in radiant high-def.
When you zoom out to look at the big picture, it’s pretty crazy that this is what our world has become. The universe has gifted us with stunning landscape scenes, a beautiful natural world, and most importantly, beautiful faces and eyes for each other to admire. Humans were created for face-to-face interaction, yet so much of the “connecting” we do today is through screens.
Clearly, I love my phone. I love the inspiration I get from Instagram, the news I get from Facebook, the connection I get from iMessage. But if there’s one thing I’m learning, it’s that I need to create clear boundaries around my usage so that I can experience the real world while using my phone as a tool instead of a lifeline.
Pretty photos on Instagram and funny Snapchat videos are great, but they can’t hold a candle to watching the rain in real time on a Sunday morning, the smell of burning sage, or a real, honest, raw, face-to-face conversation with another human. I’m all for celebrating technology and using social media as a tool for building my brand and connecting with others, but while we click, tap, follow and snap, let’s not forget to experience the real treasures of life: each other.