Over the last couple years, I have struggled with a serious attachment to my phone. Like very, unhealthily attached.
It has to be right in my back pocket or within arms reach at all times, I hear it vibrate in my dreams, and I check it regularly, whether it has buzzed or not, just to see. (Resonating with anyone?) It may sound dramatic, but this is the reality of so many people and I don’t just mean millennials, either. I know many gen z, gen x-ers, and even baby boomers, who admit to compulsively checking their phone, too. Unsurprisingly, it even has a name: nomophobia.
What’s worse, is when I check my phone, to see if someone has called or texted, (and even when they have not) I end up on to instagram, facebook, twitter, snapchat, etc, etc. I hate the way that sounds. Running through my instagram feed takes a couple minutes, then to facebook which can take however long I want, then twitter and snapchat another couple minutes, and then back to instagram to see if anyone has posted since I just looked 5 minutes before. One picture has been posted. Back to facebook to see what didn’t show up on my feed, or I didn’t click on that now I can go waste more time looking at.
15 – 20 minutes later. I don’t know where the time has gone, I have no idea what I was doing 20 minutes before, and I feel pathetic and stuck in a place without purpose. Usually a sense of inadequacy follows because majority of the material posted on social media is the highlight of a person’s day or week. The cycle of comparing myself to their lives begins, subconsciously of course, and I just end up feeling sad and pathetic.
This is our society now. And this is a huge problem.
Okay great, you can find a million articles on this all over the internet because (most) people recognize that we are turning into robots. Of course, not everyone is as bad as me… or as bad as I was.
Something wonderful happened about 5 months ago. I ordered my mom a garmin vivosmart fitness tracker. After I compared all the new fitness trackers and realized that there just wasn’t a perfect one out there, she decided this was the best choice. It reminds you to get up and move after you’ve been inactive for some time, it adjusts your daily goal based on recent days prior, it has a decently sleek/small design, a display with your steps on the device itself and – the part I thought she would hate – it connects to your phone and gives all alerts straight to your wrist band. By the end of the first week, she loved it.
I wasn’t convinced and decided to stick with my fitbit.
A month later, my wonderfully sweet puppy who I adore, destroyed the wrist band for my fitbit. Sure, I could’ve ordered a new one, but I had been wanting a new tracker for some time and it felt like a sign. So I decided to order the vivosmart, very reluctantly, might I add.
Switching to the Garmin:
My reluctance? I was so afraid that having this thing buzzing on my wrist all the time was going to make me so attached to my phone that I would seriously become a robot. (This is such a legitimate fear, it should have a name. It is different from technophobia. I need to write Mr. Webster: “robophobia” for 2016.) I never understood apple watches for the same reason. I didn’t understand why anyone would want to be more attached to their phone to the point where they couldn’t ever get away from it… it would be attached to their wrist. Forget trying to focus on anything for very long.
Fast forward a few months. I am less attached to my phone than I have been in at least a year or more. I’m walking out the door and can’t find my phone anywhere. I leave it in the car, or my purse without realizing it for hours on end and don’t even notice. It has been on silent for over a month, and I no longer hear imaginary buzzing in my sleep. What happened?
I silenced my iPhone. I could never turn the vibrate off before, because, how would I know if someone was calling? How would I know if I got an important text? What if it’s an emergency? I live alone in a separate state, far away from all family, and have no landline or close friends nearby. I need to be accessible every day, all day long… just in case. The new activity tracker has done exactly the opposite of what I feared. The band has allowed me to silence my phone, and still have updates just in case.
Here’s how it works:
I get a call from my mom. My band has two long vibrates, I look down at my wrist if I’m not using my arm for something, and I see that it’s my mom calling. I go on about my business if I’m busy, or I go find my phone (this is the hard part, because it’s often so far away now!) If I am in the middle of studying, driving, or something important, I know that I can call her back at a more convenient time. If she really needs me, she will call again, and then I will know I need to drop everything. Alternately, she will text me if she has a question. Texts also show up on the vivosmart (at least the first many sentences do) and you can scroll through them (but not respond). I get a text (short pulse) and whenever I am ready, I reach down and scroll through to see who it’s from and read it. Again, if I’m busy, I continue with what I’m doing until I decide to take a break from studying, or finish what I’m doing. The phone does not know I already read the text or missed call, so when I do go to my phone, all the reminders are there and I don’t forget to respond.
I’m able to finish what I am working on, having read the text and not obsessively wondering what the incessant buzzing was on my phone across the room (where I used to put the phone to prevent reaching for it while I’m studying!) I have confidence I didn’t miss an emergency. And I don’t read a text with a simple question that could be answered later, or someone just saying “hey”, and then proceed to waste 15 minutes switching between various social media sites.
So, having alerts on my wrist, something I was so afraid would worsen my “robophobia” and in the end, it has allowed me to silence my phone for months, and become even less attached. I am more productive, focused, and completely sold! I’m not saying I am 100% over the addiction, and without a doubt our culture will continue progressing toward more use of technology and less face-to-face contact. However, I can attest to being less dependent on having my phone within arms reach and checking it without second thought. It’s a step in the right direction.
*Note: I have not in any way, shape, or form been compensated to write this post. I have shared with friends how this has changed my relationship with my phone and decided a blog post was necessary. There are many other brands now that have similar devices, including the fitbit surge. However, the viviosmart can be found for under $150, which is very competitive. The app itself does have some flaws and connectivity can initially be a problem, but overall I think it’s a great deal.