Hello, my name is Clair and I am an addict. I’m addicted to my phone. I have an app for everything and I am connected to everyone I know through one or more of these apps. Recently I’ve started to notice its negative effect on my life. My kids have to wait for me to finish typing out a message before I look up or answer them. I miss things. I’m not listening when people speak to me. I don’t have as much time for the things I love doing. It sometimes feels like I’m as addicted to my phone as I used to be to cigarettes and its having as negative affect on my mental health as cigarettes did on my physical health. I want to quit or reduce, at the very least, the amount of time my phone spends in my hands and my eyeballs on its screen.
I’m on my phone constantly. I know where it is at all times. I take it with me everywhere, it sits on my desk at work, and I take it to the toilet and even in the bath. I never watch TV without my phone in my hand. When I realise, occasionally, that I haven’t looked at it for twenty minutes because I’ve been doing something that required both hands I get excited about what’s happened that I’ve missed in that short space of time. I eagerly look for the phone to relieve my FOMO (fear of missing out).
Speaking of FOMO, I’ve heard people say they’ve come off Facebook or uninstalled it because it was taking over their lives. The thought of doing that fills me with dread. Much of my social life is organised through Facebook. With most social events arranged through Facebook how would I know what was happening and where if I didn’t have my notifications? No. That’s not an option for me.
The biggest drain on my time though has to be app hopping. I can spend hours going from Facebook, to Twitter, to Instagram and back and this makes no sense to me because I’m friends with all the same people in all of these places. I’m not getting any new information but I can waste hours doing this.
Group chats. I’m in a million. Not literally a million but it sometimes feels that way. Group chats are a huge time sucker. Instead of communicating with each person directly you are forced to read every person’s message whether relevant to you or not. Instead of having one conversation with someone you are having a conversation in two different places. It’s double the effort.
I love social media and I love communicating with people but like any addict there comes a time when you have to admit to yourself you have a problem. I knew I had a problem. I couldn’t concentrate on my work. I wasn’t being productive and I wasn’t achieving any of the things I wanted to achieve. Ironically I installed an app that told me how many times I opened my phone and how much time I was spending on it. The app gave me targets for reducing my time and congratulated me when I successfully did this (this only ever happened once). I eventually uninstalled the app as it was pissing me off with its judgemental message every time I opened up my phone “you were just here. Do you really need to be here again?” I had to get past this to get into my phone. No thanks.
I realised I didn’t need an app to tell me to put my phone down. I’m an adult. If I can quit cigarettes I can quit my phone. I often moaned that I didn’t have time to read a book. If I’ve got hours to spend reading all the mindless junk on Facebook and the Mail Online (I know, I know, guilty pleasure. I delete this app once a month because it annoys me) then I’ve got time to read a book. Now I go to bed at 9.30pm. I make a conscious effort to put my phone down and I use that time to read a book. I’ve read more books in the last month than I have in the last two years. When something interferes with your day to day life it’s a problem. I’m not clean yet, but admitting you have a problem is the first step right?