When did we stop being okay with being alone? Has it always been a thing with humans, this fear of isolation? FOMO? Lately, I have made the extra effort to pay attention to people around me, strangers, family and friends alike, specifically to see how long they can go without a phone in their hand. Sadly, it is not a very long time.
This little experiment began when I started to notice in my own self this Pavlovian tendency to need to reach for my phone, have it near, just press that button every now and then (read: every five minutes). I would be lost in the pleasure of a story I was reading or out in nature walking the dogs, enjoying a meal with friends and bam(!) a physical need to touch my phone would hit me. Yes, there is science that supports what I was feeling. Thanks, science.
This past weekend I was taking a few days off and enjoying the pool and beach in Miami, but I might have been the only one with my pleasure vibes grooving. Nearly every person around me was on their phone, with their phone, making sweet-sweet-selfie-love to their phone.
My recent reading of all things Tim Ferriss landed me on what he calls our “digital leashes” or the “Crackberry” addiction and his suggestion to leave them off for a day, put them in the trunk of your car or leave them in a closet, anywhere but permanently attached to the end of your arm. I agree.
What I would add is my observation that our devices have created a false sense of not being alone in this big and wondrous world. We have stopped turning that loneliness into friendships as has been done for centuries, but rather seeking ‘likes and followers’ and believing the number of both or either is proof of those friendships. We have replaced the creation of memories in our minds and in the fiber of our being with ridiculously photo-shopped Selfies on Instagram. I could go on, but as my mother would say "you're just beating a dead horse".
One of the great reasons to take time away, even just a few days wherever you can get to, is opening the gift of perspective and the opportunity for hitting the reset button. I have changed my interaction with my phone, stopped carrying it everywhere (seriously ladies, could we STOP with the phones in public restrooms?!) stopped expecting it to keep me company or give me comfort and most of all, reminded myself it is not my best friend, it is just a phone.