During the middle of last month, I switched off. Mostly at least. I did not open my laptop and only allowed myself a five minute social media posting session in the morning before everyone got up. It was interesting and I partially failed. But let me tell you all about it.
Am I old?
I can very clearly remember the days without a mobile phone or the Internet. Those were the days where you knew your best friend’s telephone number by heart and remembered pretty much every birthday of pretty much everyone. Those were the days before and around the first Game Boy and I treasure them.
I bought my first mobile phone about 20 years ago. It was for emergency calls and every second I used it cost me a small fortune. Against the strong protests of my mother and after lots of convincing I connected our home computer to the Internet in 2000.That is ONLY 17 years ago!
Life before computers, mobile phones, blogs, online communities and social media was life, too. It wasn’t boring, it wasn’t difficult. It actually was pretty much as beautiful as it is today. The only difference was that we photographed with a camera that required film rolls, stuck to arranged meeting points and times and went to the library to find answers to questions. And maybe back then we used to do one or two things at a time, not four or ten.
Do you remember LOOK UP by Gary Turk? His video first made me aware of what we are doing when engaging with others through our phones. How many of us waste huge chunks of our lifetime on things that don’t matter? How less truly social have we become since social media has taken the world by storm?
What does life feel like without your phone?
After a tough 2016 and lots of professional commitments my family were looking forward to a holiday to enjoy together, to spend outdoors and relax our bodies and minds. Before we left, I found this quote and it gave me an almost radical sounding idea:
Let’s wander where the WIFI is weak.
What about if we were to choose not to use our phones during our holiday? What about if we were to take it in our own hands to switch off (or better: out of our hands)?
Building StyleCarte requires me to spend many, many hours online and engaged in social media. This is how you grow a business these days, it is THE way to connect. However, this way of connection does not stop when I leave the office to pick up my children, when I cook them dinner and bring them to bed. Weekends are no longer pure family time and are interspersed with social media commitments. This is what drives interest and traffic for a new business and can equal success.
The idea of NOT having to check the phone (i.e. emails, social media engagement, website traffic, store inquiries…) and engage only with people at real-time sounded incredibly tempting. To just BE and LIVE in the moment with my family was exactly what I wanted. And so I made up a rule where no phones were allowed between 8:30am – 12:30pm and 1pm – 9pm. For one week.
Looking up does not equal the apocalypse
I don’t know about you, but I have been far too slack in keeping my phone away from my children let alone using it in front of them. I don’t think they are aware that the original sole purpose of a phone was talking to one another when you are separated by distance.
Our children believe that this little mini-computer is a music machine that tells you the weather, shows videos and holds games. You write and receive texts messages, facetime your family no matter if they live overseas or are 7km away at work. And while you can talk to others on it, it is also a clock, takes photos and is a video camera.
These 8 days where at the end I almost forgot about my phone, were the best thing I have done in ages. For myself and for my family. I was there to play with my children, I laid on the beach and listened to voices instead of music. I read a book. A whole book in just one week! And I slept so, so much better. StyleCarte’s website traffic went down but my soul replenished and I had the best trip in a long time!
We don’t need weak WIFI if our desire to Be Present is strong
Our iPhone ban wasn’t executed 100%. We still took photos of our children and used the Internet to find out about opening times, restaurant reviews and googled directions. Nevertheless, these few days showed me that it is not the time spent on our phones that we will remember but the adventures we take. It is not about finding the best latte in town but being forced to find refuge in a gorgeous cafe for a second breakfast during a massive downpour.
Don’t get me wrong, social media is incredibly important for StyleCarte and I truly enjoy building connections with our businesses and users. Building and engaging with our community, that is what StyleCarte is about. But this week has shown me to make more of an effort to be present in the moment. In my life, the life of my children and in the world.
I sometimes wish I could make my children unlearn that you check your phone for the weather or directions. I wish we’d take out the dusty encyclopaedia instead of that smart little computer with its Internet connection. Who knows if the world has gotten darker since smart phones are around or if we just hear more and more often about what is wrong with our society and our planet.
I am not ready to give up my phone and the wealth of information it provides me with (because I AM an information junkie). But the pressure has eased a little since the phone screen is more black than lit. Since I spend more time thinking, laughing, moving, playing and reading, life has gotten better. And I do really like it.