Want to know an ugly truth? I think I spend more time with my phone than I do with any one person in my life. Before you judge, though, think about it. Even if I’m not on it, I have in with me at all times: in my backpack, purse, or pocket, going from room to room with me, always in reach. No person in my life, even my loved ones, is with me in that proximity for that amount of time every day.
Yet, I don’t think about my relationship with my phone that often. Growing up with technology integrated into everyday life, having my phone with me all the time is hardly unusual.
When someone buys a cell phone, they aren’t just signing up for convenient text and calling abilities. They are entering a new relationship. Yes, it’s a chunk of metal, but it’s a relationship nonetheless.
What is your relationship with your phone? Are you only picking it up to respond to a text or email? Are you constantly using it for something: music, internet searches, directions? Are you reaching for it out of instinct or boredom, looking for a distraction?
I was thinking about my semi-obsessive relationship with my phone, and found it fascinating to think about it if I pretended my phone were another person. I don’t think that being overly dependent on a person is healthy. I also think that it’s normal to want space away from people from time to time. Yet, I seemed to have totally thrown the values I hold for a good human connections to the wind when it comes to building a healthy relationship with my phone.
We’ve been seeing the ramifications of heavy technology use quite a bit in the last few years; maybe you’re experiencing them, too. More people have depression and anxiety, or don’t feel comfortable holding conversations in real life. People don’t memorize phone numbers anymore, and rely on GPS systems more than their spacial awareness.
So what if we treated our phones like another person in our life? Maybe we wouldn’t let it suck up all our time with it’s notifications and noises. Maybe we wouldn’t bring our phones to our beds, our bathrooms, or dinner tables. Maybe we would take conscious breaks from our screens to spend time on other relationships, or with ourselves.
Phones can be our friends, but they shouldn’t be our best friends.