Last Friday, my amazingly thoughtful coworker, Fran, offered to buy us a team lunch. It was an incredibly lovely gesture, considering food is one of my love languages. As the four of us sat there enjoying our food and brainstorming over additional ways the Bandera Bulletin could serve the community, I found myself incredibly distracted by my phone.
I was receiving texts and notifications that I felt needed immediate responses. I would stare off into space thinking of the best approach in responding to the outside world. Meanwhile, my coworkers started questioning where I was and if I was even listening. Finally I confessed, my mind was simply somewhere else.
Shortly after, my cell phone started malfunctioning. It kept turning off and on, like it was stuck in a never ending loop of restarting itself. I found this incredibly annoying and began stressing out over how to solve the system issue.
Alas, there was nothing I could do, except let my phone die a slow death of burning out the battery and turning off for the day. I had neglected to bring my charger, so I found myself completely detached from the outside world and with four hours left in the work day ahead.
Initially, my anxiety level spiked. “What if something happens to my kids?! What if I get a flat tire on the way home?! What if I want to Google the answer to something and I CAN’T!”
Then I realized that all of these problems weren’t really problems.
Entire generations were able to thrive sans cell phones, so surely I could go four hours. I called my mom from the work landline to ensure she could contact me in the event that she or the boys needed anything. Turns out, they didn’t. All other scenarios were just what ifs.
Stressing over imaginary situations is a waste of energy and realistically, my cell phone is not some magic black feather that solves all of life’s problems, I have the power and strength as a human being to face challenges and overcome them.
After I gave myself this little pep talk, I ploughed into work. I was incredibly productive and I noticed I was less stressed. I was more present with my coworkers and my creativity began to flourish. The next few hours flew by and when I left for the day, my sense of accomplishment was heightened.
Our cell phones are a luxury. Never before in history have we had perpetual access to information, connection, images, and distractions on a never ended basis. We grow accustomed to the feeling of having it all at our fingertips. However, sometimes the perceived security of our phones prohibit us from using our brains or connecting with real life humans that are right in front of us.
I have vowed to treat cell phones just like I do the other addictive substances in my life, i.e. sugar and alcohol. Moderation is key and boundaries are our friends. Cell phones stay in the room during family time. Cell phones sit on the opposite side of my desk during work hours. I look at my cell phone when it works for me, not because I must review all notifications immediately.
When I got home (without a flat tire, I might add), I charged my phone and it miraculously fixed itself. I chose to leave it in the house and went outside to play with the boys. I don’t want to miss the beauty of the moment because I’m blinded by a device.