How many times have you been in an uncomfortable situation and turned to your phone as a distraction? Or how many times have you deleted Candy Crush from your phone because it became a huge time suck? How many times have you found yourself unable to remember how to get home from work without using some kind of GPS? Do you know five of your friends‘ phone numbers by heart?
I ask because those very questions have been on my mind a lot recently. Can we do anything without our phones anymore?
When I was a kid, the phone was attached to the wall. When you wanted to call your best friend, you had to take the cord and stretch it as far away from your parents as possible. On school days, you’d say goodbye to your family at 8 A.M., and then not talk to them again until at least 3 P.M. when you got home. If you spoke to them during those hours, it was because you were in the nurse’s office or in the principal’s office. Other than that, you were living your phone-free life.
Now, we are never alone anymore, and when we are, there’s usually an extra feeling of guilt for not “checking your phone.” I know that despite my best efforts, I’m pretty tethered to my device. I’m an Uber junkie. I love Instagram. I love taking pictures and texting friends — and video chat is way better than a phone call. My phone is at my side almost always for answering emails and calls.
But all that connection, I found, has had strange effects on my life. The bright screen at night time made it harder to fall asleep. The phone connected me to the world all the time, but that connection wasn’t always a good thing. I was — and am — “too available.”
So what do we do? How do we make sure we are not on our phones too much, or even know what “too much” means? I’m not proposing that we throw out our smartphones and go back to the days of rotary phones and dial-up Internet. I just want to make sure that the “head up club” is underway. We should all remember how important it is to be curious about each other, ask questions, be present and share a moment. When you’re heads-down in your phone, there’s a lot you can miss out on that’s staring you right in the face.
This week, I have a challenge for you. Try to take an hour a day where you don’t look at your phone. Just one hour. How will you spend that time? You might find that cutting the cord — or at least, giving that cord a break — can help shake up your perspective on life.
Stacey Griffith is a senior master instructor at SoulCycle and the author of the upcoming book Two Turns From Zero. Stacey’s motivational coaching style combines a passion for dance, athleticism and mind-blowing music—all set to the beat of her voice. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.