How I am saving my most cherished relationships.
Many of us avoid it at all costs. We see the indicators, but quickly shift our eyes the other way. We cram the nagging pressure further and further back in our minds, only to allow it to resurface at the most inconvenient times. Others are doing it, but we hold strong for as long as we can. Finally, due to our own weakness, we give in. Everybody always gives in.
The iPhone update.
What, were you expecting something different?
I absolutely dread the iPhone update which seem to occur, on average, 2 times a week. Everything changes; my life seems to change with these updates.
However, there are a few things in the most recent update that I have enjoyed. One in particular is extremely interesting, but feels like a dagger in the side every time I use it. Have you found it yet? The ‘Screen Time’ counter.
If you do not know what I am talking about, and have gone through the most recent iPhone update, scroll left on your main screen all the way, and scroll down to the very bottom. There you will find the all telling numbers of how often you are dialed in to your little black mirror.
Let’s look at my stats:
8:25am - current screen time = 55m
7 day average = 1.40 hours per day.
Weekly total = 11.44 hours
Average phone pick-up = 80 times per day
Now let’s do a little math with these numbers:
Annual usage total = 594.88 hours
Annual pick-up total = 29,200 times
Annual percentage = 14%
Do these numbers scare you as much as they scare me? My stomach dropped a little as I calculated these numbers. I even feel ashamed to put these out for the world to see.
The problem? I’m considered a ‘light user.’
The average time spent on a mobile device in 2017 was ‘over 4 hours a day.’ Think about that! That’s about 86 hours a month. That’s 1,032 hours a year that the average person spends locked on their smart device. This is not even considering laptops, TVs, or tablets. The numbers are staggering.
Where do you fit in this number game? Well, if you have the new iPhone update, you can see the numbers for yourself. Likelihood is they are no prettier than my own.
We know this a problem. We see the problem creeping into existence in our own relationships; we have sacrificed the meaningful ones for the teeming number of ‘followers’ and ‘friends’ on our social media accounts. We are the most connected generation to ever exist, yet we feel the most alone. The most insecure. The most isolate.
Husbands don’t understand why their wives would rather talk to their friends from college rather than talk about his struggles at work; parents don’t understand why their child won’t just leave the phone in the other room while the family tries to spend quality time together; girlfriends don’t understand why their boyfriend would rather look up scores to all the games than hold an actual conversation over dinner.
We so often don’t understand it in other people, but we quickly reverse roles and become the one holding the phone in our own hand.
Please do not hear me wrong. I am not anti-smartphone (obviously, look again at my numbers). I do not think technology is a bad thing, I think we are beginning to see its real benefits in our societies. I don’t think we have a technology problem, I think we are just dealing with an age old human problem. Technology is just the current excuse we use to escape the reality of our situation.
I refuse to lose that degree of hours with the ones I love the most. I refuse to look back on my life and regret those moments I could have lived without the score of the game, the ding of the text message, or the twitter of a tweet to hear what my wife is really struggling with right now. I don’t want to push aside my kid’s question so I can finish typing up an email to a coworker I see in person in less than 3 hours. I don’t want to build an empire of regret from my life.
You probably don’t either.
Unfortunately, I have nothing to offer you. Like mentioned, this is not a technology problem, this is a human problem. You have to deal with your problem for yourself. You have to do what’s best for you.
Think about it for a moment: Why do you have a nagging desire to get on our phone right when you wake-up, go to sleep, are in the car, during breakfast, immediately after dinner, and while you relax? What is actually pulling you away from the ones you love the most?
I am ready to do something about it. Personally, my family is far too important to me than to let a little black screen pull me away from important moment with them. For that reason, here are some adjustments I am making in my life. Perhaps you can do the same, or perhaps you will adapt these and make your own list. I am not claiming this is easy, but in my opinion, it is necessary.
Dinner at a “techless” table. No more eating dinner in front of the TV (guilty). No more allowing the iPhone to sit face-up on the table (guilty). No more getting up to respond to a ding from my phone across the room (guilty). In an era of constant distraction and busyness, a meal shared in a home over a table can provide an almost sacramental connection.
No ‘phone time’ during ‘car time.’ Time in the car with other people is pretty special. You are locked in close proximity with each other, everyone can hear each other equally, and there is nothing for anybody to do but talk with each other (if the phones are away). Drive time can and should be quality time.
Bedside table is not for the phone. This is going to be one of the most difficult transitions. Throughout college I weaned myself off the desire to ‘fall asleep’ to the fluorescent glow of my phone. Instead, I have pretty consistently read a book right before falling asleep. But waking up to my phone is a whole other issue. I have even found myself waking up in the middle of the night to respond to a message! WHAT? Not anymore. A good ol’ fashion alarm-clock is in my future and the phone will be charged over night in the room next-door.
Invest in quality time with the ones I love. This one seems easier than I know it will actually be. Darian’s family is coming in over Thanksgiving, a perfect time to test out my resilience. I don’t want to walk away with memories of the time we all went out to dinner and sat on our phones until our dishes arrived. I don’t even want our greatest memory to be the time we all went out and watched a movie together (which I know will happen at some point). Instead I want to share laughs over a boardgame, make memories cooking a meal, or just sit down and share how life is going.
Put my phone on ‘do not disturb’ mode all day long. What? Am I allowed to do that? How will I know what is happening or when someone is desperately trying to get ahold of me? I guess it will have to happen when I choose for it to happen. I have to make the conscious decision to control technology and communication in my life, not allow it to control me. This is a small effort, but perhaps will have large benefits. No more dings or vibrations to interrupt my conversations, thoughts, or work. Now it happens on my terms.
Maybe these spark ideas for you, or maybe you just think I’m nuts. I probably am. But, I would rather be nuts and have meaningful moments with my loved ones than be normal by the world’s standards and regret missing out.
We are not living in the midst of a technology problem, we are dealing with the same human problem we have always been dealing with. From husbands running away to the garage to forever work on the car, to wives obsessed with online shopping or gossiping with the ladies about each other’s husbands; from sons who spend more time at their friend’s house than their own, to daughters who never seem satisfied with what they have. This is a human problem.
Confront it. Recognize it. Do something about it.