Is your phone sabotaging you?
Based on recent statistics, chances are you are reading this on a mobile device. Thank you, and let me tell you why you would rather you didn’t.
You have probably heard all about the crazy amount of time we spend on our phones and how this kills human interaction. Sure, it was much better once upon a time, when you would look strangers in the eye and shake hands to prove your sword stayed at home. Frankly speaking, criticising the impact of technology on interpersonal communication is too easy. Let’s focus on something else instead – the impact your phone usage might have on your personality.
Now that I have your attention, this is what you stand to lose through excessive phone use:
In her insightful book “Presence”, Amy Cuddy discusses in length how body posture can affect assertiveness and confidence. Among the numerous studies she undertakes, one focuses on posture while using a mobile device. For most of us, checking our phones means automatically hunching and looking down (hence the term for this posture – iHunch). Whereas the occasional hunch might seem harmless, research shows that spending time in a “powerless” posture leads to increased cortisol and decreased testosterone production. As these two hormones play a vital role in our assertive behaviour and stress perception, the hunch could actually cause you to feel less bold over time and hinder your reactions to novel and challenging situations. The good news is, you can reverse this effect! An obvious solution is to stop checking your phone that much, but if that is a stretch – make sure you have the most upright and expansive posture possible while using your device. For more tips on using your body posture to enhance confidence, I would highly recommend reading Amy Cuddy’s book.
Your Romantic Mysteriousness
Before I started consciously limiting my smartphone usage, I used to instinctively grab my phone in any situation where I would have to wait, where I would have to be alone, or when I was so nervous I did not know what to do with my hands. The idea that we are using our phones to avoid uncomfortable feelings is not new. It is human nature to seek an escape from discomfort or threat. Putting your phone down will not change that.
However, as an admirer of all things poetic, I must inform you that while escaping into your phone, you are missing out on learning the following beautiful skills:
One of the saddest things phones have done to us is to create the expectation that something needs to be happening all the time. A moment of silence feels like a moment lost. A slow day feels unproductive. But the good things in life take time, and knowing how to expect them is one of the most underrated beauties of life. The moment before something happens – before your lover arrives, before your alarm clock rings, before the rain starts – is when life happens. Losing this ability to just be still and wait will make you, frankly, tragically uninteresting. Stop this from happening by not grabbing your phone next time you are waiting for someone to show up – look around instead. Notice the sky. Breathe in. Breathe out. Take a walk around the block and come back. The beauty of the moment is fragile – open that app and it’s gone.
Ten years ago, before I was a smartphone owner, I was a paper map owner. A proud one. Finding myself in the beautiful city of Vilnius at the time, I was planning my daily route in the mornings only to end up losing my way by lunchtime. There was no Google Maps for me to turn to – there were people. And, actually, this is how I got to know the stories of the places I was looking for, rather than just their locations. Not that the internet doesn’t offer this knowledge, but the way you remember a story being told to you is not the way you remember reading a Wikipedia article.
Constant reliance on Google Maps takes away the serendipity of life. Consider all the side streets you have never seen and what gems they could hide. Frankly, unless you live in a super dangerous place (in which case, please don’t follow my advice), you will be fine without a map. Grab some comfy walking shoes, a camera (optional) and leave your phone at home. Take the longest, most winding route to where you want to go. If you need directions, ask someone or look for a bus stop – there are always maps of the area on there. Now get lost!
Are there any other beautiful life skills you know of that are under threat of modern technology?
Let us know and let’s figure out how to protect them together! Contact me here: firstname.lastname@example.org