“Put that phone away”, I hear myself say it almost every day. When you finally lie in bed after a long day of plodding, you haven’t checked out yet. Not really. When I ask “how was your day” I hardly get an answer. Sighing, I turn around, grab a book and immerse myself in the story. Still, it torments me that we are abnormally digital.
The time we spend online is increasing. That makes sense, we live in a different era than ten years ago. Our phones are just about grown together with our hands and we are therefore constantly ‘on’. Provided you have the strength to put the device aside for a while, but that turns out to be difficult in practice. I even have regular battles with my husband about it.
Recently I was away with friends for a weekend, precisely to escape the everyday grind and yet we keep a close eye on our phones. During dinner we study the menu and the latest apps with photos of our offspring. As if life at home doesn’t go on when we have a miss a moment. The home front is busy with the kids, so let’s enjoy the food.
Checking out so-called urgent notifications on our phone is an ingrained habit that is hard to break. Real connection therefore becomes more fleeting and less attentive. You notice that when you say something and notice after a few seconds that the other person is not listening. “What do you say?”
Why is it so hard to live in the here and now? This is due to the desire for one dopamine shot that we sometimes get when we see something memorable on our phone. A nice message, a compliment or a great invitation.
You used to get this post or compliments reallife. Today this is done digitally. Social media in particular is aimed at a quick reward and that even makes it addictive.
Boundaries between work and private are blurring
Phones are increasingly one troublemaker in our lives. The device is there at any time of the day, even if you are not aware of it. Notifications of messages take us out of our concentration all the time and that affects many people. Especially when it blurs the boundaries between work and private life.
This effect has been amplified during the pandemic. Working from home brought freedom and flexibility, but also responsibility and discipline. If you go for a walk during the day, you feel obliged to be reachable in the evening. That’s how the brain works. The aftermath this brought with it is still noticeable.
While it’s just annoying. As a human being you want to connect and be seen, that is a basic need. When the person you’re with is constantly on their phone, you don’t get this recognition. You feel unseen and unheardwhich in turn creates feelings of loneliness and uncertainty.
Don’t text while eating is therefore an asset to many people. This book is a guide for people who find it difficult to distance themselves from their phones. Sanne Kanis and Aaron Mirck talked to various experts and came to five important principles.
You buy the book here
These are the five questions you can ask yourself if your phone behavior is getting out of hand:
1. Would I do this offline too?
2. Can this also be done without technology?
3. Am I putting myself or others at risk?
4. Do I take enough into account others I don’t see?
5. Would I want to be treated like this myself?
Sometimes it is enlightening and soothing to put your phone away. Especially while eating or in bed. For me, these are the intimate moments to be together, to have a good conversation and to really connect with the people you love.
Why is being happy so hard? We interviewed happiness psychologist Josje Smeets
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