Toxic | By Christel Weinert

My recent visit to a tranquil farm with zero cell phone reception, amplified my awareness around the co-dependent relationship I have with my 5.7-inch device. I love technology as much as the next person and the progressive impact it has on society, intrigues me.

I currently have 112 Apps, 2573 camera photos (mostly of my dog), 1253 WhatsApp photos and 23 photo albums. At the risk of sounding like a walking contradiction, there is a part of me which fully acknowledges that my side-kick and I are toxic together.

Here’s why….

It is quite frightening to know just how much power these devices possess in their ability to alter the way in which we lead our lives. Anxiety, depression, loneliness and lack of concentration have all been identified as some of the impactful symptoms on our state of minds and overall well-being. I was amazed to learn that the average person spends 2.51 hours on their smartphones a day and a baffling 4.33 hours if you include tablets into that calculation!

More studies have found various disorders surfacing as a result of these gadgets. One of which, I have personally experienced- ‘Phantom Vibration Syndrome’. Described by Wikipedia as ‘the perception that one's mobile phone is vibrating or ringing when it is not ringing’ is said to be caused by technology actually re-wiring our brains into feeling and thinking that we are receiving a message or a phone call- pretty perplexing!

Sans my phone, it was remarkable how time seemed to expand and instead of looking to engage with an intangible world, I was present. Being disconnected, ironically led me to feel more connected than ever. More connected to myself, my surroundings, the beautiful animals and perhaps, most importantly, the people who were in my presence. This allowed me to form new friendships and cultivate existing ones with laser focus and attentiveness in conversations. It also made me acutely aware that at times friends and family don’t receive the best of me as I immerse myself in pointless scrolling or text conversations which don’t require an immediate response.

The phrase ‘head down generation’ is coined for people born in the 80’s. I actually disagree with that phrase solely applying to 80’s babies as I am increasingly finding that people across all age groups have their faces buried in technology. This means that it is no longer a generational issue, rather, a phenomenon which is becoming imprinted in the very nature of who we are as human beings.

During this week, I have attempted to alter the usage of the driving force behind the pattern of my life. I have been intentional about putting insignificant notifications on silent, keeping my phone in a different room to avoid distraction and ensuring that my phone is out of sight when in company.

I encourage you to dissect your phone habits. Do you check your phone first before you kiss your partner good morning? Do you pull out your phone out at a dinner table when you should be focused on making the people at your table heard and significant? Do you spend more time scrolling than living? Do you miss moments by trying to capture them on your phone?

Like me, if you have answered yes to any of the above questions, perhaps it is time for you to break up with your phone….

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