Toss your phone. I stopped using mine entirely for 10 days, and gained something of real value.
Toss Your Phone
A short personal post today.
I just returned from a 10-day vacation where I made a decision to completely unplug from the memetic madness that is the internet. I actually lost it for four of those days before finding it again, but that made little difference to my usage.
No phone calls, no email, no social media, no camera.
I was in Prague having done no research at all beforehand. But I didn’t look up monuments or use Google Maps to get around – I just wandered. I was in France and took it all in without snapping photos to share with others.
I noticed most people weren’t doing this. Tourists were standing in front of some of the most beautiful scenes in the world, yet stressing themselves about taking pictures. The mind becomes more obsessed with selfie sticks and Snapchat than soaking in the world around you.
Rich kids were visiting Monaco and checking Instagram or Twitter, looking bored out of their minds. (Endowment is a curse). I was staring in wonder at the opulence of the Principality on Grand Prix weekend.
Phones are portals to the memetic world. Look at a modern crowd in any location, local or on vacation, and the masses are transporting themselves to a different reality.
The mind hurries when you’re constantly exposing yourself to the modern world of ultra-viral memes. The news takes you to a sports stadium, or the White House, or to the site of an atrocity in Manchester. Social media removes you from where you are and takes you into the lives of friends and celebrities. Waves and waves of undistilled information.
Toss your phone and gain presence. It forces you to interact only with the world around you. I meditate and this did more for my mindfulness than anything ever has.
10 days was enough to cut the groove. The feeling has been lasting – my mental health is better, and I’m a lot less concerned about all the bullshit going on.
The smartphone stays, for now, because I’d still like a camera and mapping device. But the apps are deleted, and I’m not planning to slip back in. Remember that the whole system is set up to get you addicted, increasing the time you spend using it.
I recommend a 10-day toss your phone to everyone. Check it once daily if you need to communicate through calls/messages. But freeze the social media and news. See if you miss it – I predict you won’t.