It’s not Me, It’s You

Breaking up is easy, slowly put down the device and walk away.

“womens and mens using phone standing outside at daytime” by rawpixel on Unsplash

I picked up a copy of “How to Break Up with Your Phone: The 30-Day Plan to Take Back Your Life” by Catherine Price from my library. I recommend it for everyone who is reading this on their phone right now. Price says from the beginning. It isn’t about putting your phone in the drawer and no using it at all, it is about having a relationship with your deceive that you control not the other way around. DING…Hang on, I just got a text notification.

Price offers, as the title states, a thirty day plan to put your phone use in perspective. Like the rebel that I am, I skipped the fist part of the book, the why of the plan and went right in to read the how. I thought nope, nope and nope. I am not going to be a productive marketing dynamite of my writing and novels if I can’t check social media fifteen or so times per day. (Fifteen, snicker) I am not a marketing genius so I need all the help I can get. She suggests a twenty four hour screen fast every so often.

No screens. None.

Yes, I mean that one, in your hand and the one on the desk. That includes the television, tablet and laptop.

I was about to toss the little yellow book on the table when I accidentally some how ended up on page six of the Why part. It is full of stats. Me being the girl who reads stats for fun decided to give it a look. You may want to sit down for this. Price outlines, from various sources, the following. I am paraphrasing here…Americans spend more than 4 hours a day, 52 hours a year on their cell phones. I know! I didn’t believe it either and not even half of that is actually talking. It is mostly apps and responding to notifications. About 80% of us check our phones with in 30 min of opening our eyes in the morning. That one I can believe. Here’s the saddest stat she had listed on page 6, and this is a word for word quote. You are sitting down, right?

“Nearly 1 out of every 10 adults admit to checking their phones during sex. Yes, sex.”

First of all, who does that? Second, who admitted to it? Hello….is anybody home? Listen, if your significant other so much as glances at the phone on the side table during that, kick them out of your bed, your house and your life.

So now that Price had my attention, I looked a little further in to the Why part of the book, appropriately titled, “The Wake Up”. Wake up, holy cow, did I ever. She explains the phone addiction that we have all heard of but did you know that it actually physically changes the structure of your brain? Yeah, well it does. It also is killing our attention spans, messing with our memory and ruining our much needed sleep. I don’t know about you but I like my sleep. A lot. I could marry the sandman if I wasn’t already married to a super hero.

I have a family history of Alzheimer’s and dementia. I am always reading the latest research on new strategy to keep my brain healthy. There’s the stats again. I have noticed that my memory is not near what it was even just a few years ago. Also my attention span is shorter and getting shorter.

Dug the dog from Disney/Pixar’s “UP”

We call it the Squirrel in the room. You’ve heard that before. Someone sees me get distracted and says, “squirrel” or I say to about myself. I am at risk of those nasty little things already so add in stress from breaking a phone addiction and lack of sleep, I was reading the little yellow break up book for real then.

I thought I was doing ok. I realized it wasn’t the time I have at home that was the problem for me with my phone, it was when I was away from my family. We have rules for screens at our house. Designated times when there are no screens allowed. No screens at dinner. No screen times when children and adults are reading. When we do the shower rotation, yeah with five kids and two adults it takes a while, we have a no screens. I know sounds weird, but trust me tablets do not like water. Even when a little is insisting she is just listening to music in the bathroom.

In the 30 day plan Price offers some real life solutions. It is a list of strategies that you can follow or personalize in a way that suites your lifestyle. It is an outline for managing what you need to do on your cell while it stops the urgent need to pick it up every few minutes. DING..Sorry, let me check this Facebook notification real quick.

Price encourages mindfulness which is simply being in the moment. Looking at all the things we miss out on when we are looking down at the little screen prison. Paying attention to what happens around you. Enjoying the sunset. Listen to your children’s laughter as they play. People watch when waiting in line.

Now the hard part, what Price calls the “trail separation”. It is a complete 24 hour screen fast. She gives you a to do list first. Tell people what you are doing, created auto responses to texts and calls. Give alternative ways to contact you, in the event of situation that can’t wait. Like the 30 plan this is adjustable for your life too. Price gives you options, but wants you to be real about what is happening to you.

I encourage you to consider reading Catherine Price’s book “How to Break Up with Your Phone: The 30-Day Plan to Take Back Your Life”. Yes, read the entire thing, even the scary statistics. It is an eye opener. I didn’t even tell you about how Prices explains the ways the technology gurus manipulate us into wanting to use the apps more and more. They build the fun time sucks to addict us on purpose. Shocking! DING….Oh, I have a friend with a Word.

I decided to take this on as baby steps. I have stopped all notifications on apps. I have set Do Not Disturb times. I have a designated place in the corner of my office at work and in the furthest place in the house for my phone to be when I am taking a break from it. My family have ways to get me if they need me. Here’s a fun one, I have actually picked up the ancient land line and made an actual phone call. I know! It was so exciting! You should try it. Not all people have a landline any more, so I get that too. We have teenagers. They are not allowed to have cell phones yet, that’s why we have one. If you don’t have landline as an alternative, did you know you can make real calls from your cell phone too? Amazing, right?

Even if you pick out one or two things to implement you have improved your life a bit. I haven’t braved the full 24 hour screen fast yet. I plan to work up to it and then surpass it. As an author, I am just as nervous about not having my laptop for those hours. Maybe I will look for an old typewriter or invest in pencils.

The point is technology is here to stay. The catch is will it control us or will we control it? I don’t know about you, but I am more interested in living life than staying attached to screens. There is an entire big world out there full of extraordinary people, places and things. I want to experience all I can in the time I have left on this planet.

Believe in being present in the moment and take back your life.

~Lori O’Gara

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