Phone, Home

by Tom Swift

Yesterday morning I walked out the door to start the day thinking my phone was in my jacket pocket when in fact it was sitting back, at home, on my desk.

I didn’t realize this dissonance until I drove to work, closed the car door, and headed across the parking lot. It was at that point too late to do anything about the hole in my holster.

During early pauses and breaks in my day, I reflexively reached for the phone that wasn’t there.

Imagine you’re at the end of your life and you realize how much time you wasted on the specific task of thumbing through your phone …

Of course, everything can be used as an advantage if you look for it. Our smartphones can be used to connect to others, stay on track with tasks, and to learn about the world. Some amount of time spent with them can be useful, worthwhile, and sometimes you need escape for its own sake. Smartphones can help with that.

Our smartphones are also uniquely designed to grab and keep our attention. I look down at my phone on lunch breaks, look back up, and, poof, there went a half hour. Without question, when you are on your phone, your mind is not in the room with you.

The first half of the day yesterday I reached for the phone without thinking about it. I reached for the dopamine hit I couldn’t take.

Eventually, sans the phone, specifically during my lunch break, I noticed I had casually observed people walking and talking in the cafeteria. I engaged a group of colleagues who had dined together and were walking by me. And I wrote — using old-fashioned pen on paper. I even had a lucid thought or two.

At some point I noticed I was having a really good day.

I noticed I felt more or less calm.

I felt more present.

I was in less of a hurry to do everything.

Coincidence? Perhaps.

Hey, it’s not like I am going to toss my phone into the snowbank. It will no doubt accompany me to work today.

But I do know I don’t want to be addicted to a device.