Musings: What I Don’t Want to Be Known For…

The girl that is always on her phone.

And I am! Ugh! And not in a good way! Girl — PUT YOUR PHONE DOWN!

“You’re always on your phone.”

“Quit social mediaing.”

“What else is new, she’s always on her phone.”

Good God. How disconnected am I from this literal world? I’m embarrassed that this is me. I can’t hide from it. I don’t tout it. But shit, it isn’t something I want to be known for.

I HATE when anyone says these things to me and I argue that I’m not. But really, if people are pointing it out, then I must damn well be. I don’t want to be that person. I don’t want everyone to think I’m more interested in what is on the screen than what they have to say. Becuase that is so far from the truth, but what I seem to be putting out there into the world.

I crave authentic connections and if I’m not offering that, then I’m failing myself.

So, here I am, openly promising to put my phone down and be present.

I’m addicted to my phone. Yup, there. I said it. In this age, it is too easy to grab your phone and distract oneself, instead of allowing yourself to sit peacefully (and dare I say happily) and be present. Be bored. Be mindful. Be aware.

So, yes, I am a culprit of being an asshole millennial who is obsessed with their phone. How do I stop? I’ll be good for a few days, then I slide back into the nasty routine of habitually grabbing my phone if real life doesn’t seem interesting enough.

It’s not because I don’t enjoy human interaction. I do a lot. The extrovert in me loves conversing with anyone and everyone. I love to ask questions. But I also have taught myself to reach for my phone and scroll absentmindedly. I recently read an article where people are less and less engaged with FB because of the sheer amount of absentminded scrolling, due to the vast amount of random videos and nonsense in timelines. Thus came the algorithm change early in 2018 to bring more personal interactions to the top of your feeds. If FB even noticed how autopilot we’ve all become, then I think my issue bleeds much farther than my two thumbs.

I’m only worried about myself, though. I don’t want to be that friend that does not engage authentically with you. If I have, this is a sincere apology to you. I need to be better. I will be better. It’s not your job, but I’d love if you’d please scold me and gently remind me to be present. It is my sincere hope that your alert will remind me that whatever is on my phone is truly not that important. I don’t mean to be the asshole friend. But I also need to stop being the unintentional asshole friend.  Maybe your joking about it is partial truth and it does bug you, but you don’t know how to address it with me. So, here I am. Asking you to address it with me. Call me out!

It’s something I’ve noticed for awhile and definitely something that affected my previous relationship. I stumbled upon this Tiny Buddha article in the process of writing this post: How Our Smartphones Are Disconnecting Us and What to Do About It. It was a great read and I wholeheartedly empathize with the lack of connection in a relationship. It was definitely a sore spot for both parties and reading this only solidified how important the intimate connection between partners is and how it affects so many more aspects of the relationship – sex, intimacy, and the overall health of the relationship. A lot of times the action of losing oneself on their phone came across as ‘retaliation’ since the other person was already on their phone too or it was used as justification for extended screen time. Instead of trying to be intentional about screen time, it caused friction and resentment. Hindsight allows me to be cognizant of the need to be self-aware of my actions and also take ownership of my poor habits. This is something I will be working on for ALL of my relationships in my life; friend, family, or love.

Does every moment need to be captured? No. Does every moment need to be posted? No.

Do I love to try to capture all the good moments? Yes. Do I post a lot? Yes.

I can honestly say that I don’t post photos because I seek validation from likes by friends, family, or randoms (or creeps). Or do I? Maybe subconsciously and slightly consciously I get a slight joy out of seeing my likes rise or reading comments on a post. They feel nice at times, but I don’t post something because the likes make me feel like a better person. I genuinely like to share the good in my life. I share the not-so-good, but that comes more so through my written word versus pics or posts on Instagram or Facebook. I don’t post to brag about something new I bought, a cool vacation I’m on or something amazing I accomplished. I just honestly like to share my life via social media. I enjoy being open and authentic. I know this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But I need to find the balance of taking the time to capture these authentic moments and LIVING the authentic moments.

I also recognize there is a flip side to being open and sharing your life. It also opens you to unwanted criticism and judgment. I cannot control this, but I can control how I react to these types of comments, reactions, or judgments. I am also very cognizant that social media is the driver of self-comparison which is also really unhealthy and the thief of joy. Being self-aware is my first step in working toward real-life connections instead of mindless scrolling. I’ve been trying to do it for awhile, but not doing it enough. So, here and now, I am committing to make this a priority. I will mentally check myself each time I reach for my phone when it isn’t necessary.

Here are a few of the small steps I have been taking to be more present and not so reliant on my phone:

  • I no longer scroll right when I wake up. Once I turn off my alarm clock (snoozing optional) I put my phone done until after I am done getting ready.
  • I’ve started unfollowing accounts and people who lead me to develop unhealthy self-comparison thoughts.
  • I ask myself if I am bored and why I need to distract myself with my phone/social media.
  • Try to turn my phone upside down at the table, even better, leave my phone in my purse and enjoy my meal or convo.
  • I do not (nor have not really) have notifications on my phone for social media.
  • Try to be VERY cognizant of how often I check my email accounts — I don’t have to answer every email within five minutes, setting boundaries around this.

These are just a few ways I’ve been trying to incorporate my self-awareness into my phone habits. I’m obviously not doing my best, because just the other day a friend told me to stop “social media-ing” while she was trying to tell me something as we walked to her car. It doesn’t mean I am not trying, I just need to do a better job.

Have you noticed there is a ripple effect when you are in a larger group? It starts with just one person who pulls out their phone, which sets a chain reaction of acceptance for everyone else to follow suit. The first person does so and no one says anything, essentially indicating to everyone this is socially acceptable behavior, even if they might not think it to be. There will be some who easily fall into doing this (myself included, especially if I’m not directly in the conversation or knowledgeable about the topic), but there are also those who don’t naturally feel this is acceptable but may be drawn to do so because the group is doing it. Someone might even joke about everyone using their phones or you may all sit there individually on your phones in unaware silence. Be the person to break it up. Restart the conversation. Get everyone engaged again. Time is a commodity and we don’t have endless amounts of it. If we are gathered together, let’s make it meaningful. Let’s try to connect.

I want to be the friend that gives you their undivided attention. I want to have a genuine connection with you. I don’t want you to feel like my phone is more important than what you have to say or how you feel. I want you to know I am present, I am interested, and I care.

I will not normalize this behavior, I will be better…promise!

One Reply to “Musings: What I Don’t Want to Be Known For…”

  1. Sad truth for so many. We are all guilty.. I heard there is a resturant that you have to put ur ph in basket at seating. Pick it up on way out. I really try not to have ph in hand all the times. Esp when in conversation. My kids have their heads in the phone all the time. 😞

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