I’m turning my phone off

canstockphoto24411457There, I did it. It’s off. It’s not on mute, and it’s not on vibrate. It’s off, just off.

Well this is slightly terrifying. Okay, breath deep, you can do this.

Don’t even pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. I see you, right now, checking your phone. You are watching TV and checking your phone, reading a book and checking your phone, at work and checking your phone, spending time with your kids or significant other, and checking your phone. We all do it, and its driving us all crazy.

People have gotten used to being plugged in 24/7. We have gotten used to being able to message someone and hearing back instantly. In fact, if we don’t hear back immediately we assume that something is wrong. Are they mad at us? Are they sick? Are they dead? It’s insanity and I for one am putting an end to it.

Remember the days before cell phones. If you wanted to call someone, you called and if they weren’t there you left a message. Then a few hours later when they got your message they would call you back. That’s it; I’m going retro on you all. Pretend its 1989 and leave me a message.

I’ve noticed lately that I don’t have enough down time. Oh I have time when I do relaxing things, but they are always done with my phone by my side so that I don’t miss anything. I am checking messages while at dinner, I am checking messages during intermission at the theater. I am checking work emails at 11 pm at night! I don’t want to do that anymore, I want to live in the moment. I want to have a conversation with you that does not involve anyone else. When I spend time with you, any of you, I want to be present. You are all just going to have to believe me that it’s a good thing and learn to be patient when it’s not your turn.

How about you? Do you ever turn it off? Are you checking your phone when you are at gym, or on a long walk or run? Are you bringing your phone into the bathroom with you? Come on folks, do you see how we are driving ourselves mad?

I used to have a friend that would call and if I didn’t answer, they would call again, and again. Then they would text. Then they would Facebook message. All of these messages went to the same device mind you, so if I was too busy to answer the call, clearly I was too busy to answer a message in any other way. God forbid I was in the shower, or driving and wanting to pay attention to my driving, or spending time with someone who needed and deserved my full attention at that moment. Notice I said “used to” have a friend!

And then what happens when you get back to your phone and you get all those frantic messages? Well, you assume that someone has died, or is in jail, or is bleeding profusely. I don’t know about you but my blood pressure goes up, I am on high alert, I have huge anxiety, and then I call them back to find out they just wanted to know if I was free for dinner!

Sorry, I can’t spend my days like that. I can’t be on call 24/7 to a couple dozen people, even if I love each and every one of them. Oh don’t get me wrong, I do have real responsibilities. In addition to four children, I am the primary caretaker for my 80 year old mother. I do need to be available. However, I’ve also got to take care of me. Every one of the people I love have other people in their lives and if I am not available at that minute, they have someone else they can call, or they can wait an hour and I’ll be available again.

Okay, it’s been ten minutes and my phone is still off. I’m going to confess to checking Facebook messages while writing this, just in case!

This is harder than I thought, but it’s necessary for my health, mentally and physically. Being constantly plugged in and on alert makes us tired, stressed and cranky. At least it does me! We all need time to get lost in our own thoughts. We all need time that is unscheduled and uninterrupted. We all need to enjoy the fun things we do and the people we love without distraction.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not anti-technology. I am not anti-social media. In fact, I love all things social media! I love that I can keep in touch with friends far away, or know what friends nearby are doing for fun tonight so I can join them. It’s just that like everything I enjoy, too much of it is not a good thing. I can’t drink wine 24/7, or eat good food, or have good sex or read good books. While I enjoy all of those things, doing them non-stop every day would result in a very unproductive and eventually stressful existence.

So my phone is off, just for a little while longer, it’s going to take some practice but I think I can do it!

Karen Foley

About Karen Foley

Karen Foley, has successfully been writing her blog for the BDN since May 2011. By successful, she means a few people read it, and she has not been sued, stalked or fired since starting it.