I'm a Dick. I'm Addicted to You.
Photo by Oleg Magni
Written by Chelsea Francis
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how our cell phones affect our everyday life. We rely on them so much. We use them to navigate us from point a to point b, we keep lists on them, we use them to connect to friends. We use them for everything.
My personal relationship with my phone and that whole journey is tricky. I use it for work. Having a presence on Instagram is important both for this online space and for my photography business. Quite literally, my phone oftentimes makes me money. But there is the whole thing where I have stress-induced hallucinations on occasion from staring at it too long.
You heard me right. A few years ago a friend told me she had ocular seizures and hallucinations where her vision became tunneled due to anxiety, and I filed that under the wildest shit I’d ever heard of.
6 months ago, when my arms and computer seemingly shot 8 feet away from me and I felt like my fingers were made of noodles, it was even crazier than I initially imagined.
Thankfully but making caffeine an irregular part of my routine, talking to my therapist about it, scheduling time off regularly, and limiting phone use I’ve been able to keep the noodle arms at bay.
TLDR on that: It’s no surprise that I’m interested in this.
For about 4-5 months I was pretty good about not using it as a crutch, but over the past few I’ve realized that I’ve fallen back into some old habits.
I’ve found that in stress, I use my phone as an escape. It’s not uncommon for me to lay in bed and stare at it for the first 30-45 minutes of my day, and I’m imagining you might be able to relate.
I’ve also found that throughout the day, even though I have my phone on Do Not Disturb, I check my phone every 4 or 5 minutes.
I don’t open anything every time, but I probably do every hour or two. I’ll spend around 10-15 minutes scrolling Instagram or refreshing my emails. Talk about a productivity block!
I’ve been on two trips recently where I was away from Wifi and cell phone service for about 3 days at a time.
During those 3 days, I realized that nothing changes when your phone is out of sight and your notifications don’t get answered right away. The feeling of freedom to just read, or write or do work or hang out uninterrupted with a group of people who are also fully present was intoxicating.
Since I’ve been trying to find a few things to implement into my everyday.
Here are a few things that I’m trying. These are in no way hard and fast rules, and I’m not telling you what to do. These are just the things I’m trying to implement to have a happier, healthier relationship with technology. If you find something useful here, that’s lovely! If not, that’s lovely too!
Do Not Disturb as often as possible (or at all times if you’re me!)
I know, I know. You probably think you couldn’t possibly do this, but I promise you you can. You’ll still receive notifications that you can check easily. You’ll still probably check your phone every hour on the hour if you want to. You won’t miss anything, I’d wager. But what you will gain is taking back the agency of when your phone gets your attention. You’ll be checking it on your terms. You’ll break the cycle of your phone releasing endorphins. It will be beautiful.
Wake Up + Get Out of Bed!
I’ve been making sure my feet hit the ground before I reach for my phone and it’s totally changed my morning routine. I find it helpful to make sure I don’t zonk out before I get my day started.
This is one I’m building up to right now and hoping to implement. I know Carly at Frolic and Flow does a 9pm phone curfew every night where her phone goes into a drawer in her kitchen. Hoping to give that a try.
Don’t Reach For It While Hanging Out
I used to be bad about having my phone on me at all times just in case I wanted to snap a photo to share online. I think Instagram seems to have slowed down, and I’ve tended to just leave it laying somewhere. I’m trying to stay in the habit it of leaving it in my bag when I’m face to face with another person. No checking notifications unless I’m expecting something super urgent. No scrolling while with other people. I’m also trying to limit the time I’m on my phone around those I’m closest to, including my best friends and my husband. This is obviously difficult and a learning process.
In writing this down it feels almost surreal that a piece of technology has permeated so far into our everyday lives. The world that technology opens up is beautiful, but it can also be mentally damaging. It’s encouraging to know that while I’m navigating the wild, wild west of cellular dependence, I’m not alone.
Chelsea Francis is a photographer, editor, connector, and all around people person residing in Austin, TX. She's most passionate about helping people see the beauty in their own lives, a good cup of coffee, helping businesses thrive, and finding a great slice of pizza. When she's not answering emails, she's writing and editing pieces for Pass/Fail, hosting networking events, and shooting photographs for incredible companies both in Austin and elsewhere.