My friend Wonderful Tracey posted a challenge on Facebook a few days ago for people to pledge, for one week, to put down their phones when they were around other people, and linked to this article. This means no checking your status, or your email, or what Blake Shelton said on “The Voice” last night, or the latest political scandal on CNN, or who liked the funny thing you just posted because it was brilliant and people need to start pressing those “thumbs up” buttons. People are always posting challenges and such on the Facebook, as my dad called it, and some of them I have accepted (if not completed all the way), like posting a Bible verse every day because that is encouraging. Some of them I have rolled past, like forwarding something because the original poster says this proves that I love Jesus if I share it, and proves that I don’t love him if I don’t. Because that is bogus and Jesus didn’t appoint you the judge of who loves Him based on clicks.
But the putting away your phone thing hit me right in the gut, because I knew that this would be hard for me. Like really hard. Because I love my phone. I mean, I forget where it is sometimes when I am doing other things, and there are times when I have missed texts because I had my phone in my purse for a few days, and that means that I lived without it. But those times of non-phone awareness are lesser in number than the times, usually during the day, that I am constantly checking that thing. I hear a beep and I need to see who that was. I post something funny or shared a cute picture of my kid, and I look a bunch of times to see who agrees with me that I am funny and that my kid is indeed cute. I want to check it at red lights, which is dangerous. And I often check it when I am out with people. This is different from answering it if someone actually calls you, or looking down to see if I should answer it. No, this is pre-ring checking, because someone MIGHT need me. And someone might think that I am important.
And that is what it is about for me, really. People engaging with me online makes me feel worth the engagement, like I am loved. It’s about more than just the “likes” or the clicks. Just as this book I am reading about food says that we often overeat because we crave something else besides food, when I check my phone excessively, I am craving something, too.
Which I have if people are sitting in front of me.
My kid, my lunch date, my husband, the checkout guy at Trader Joe’s. All human. All ready to communicate and make me laugh and have me listen and kiss them (my husband) and make small talk about tortilla chips. And I am throwing their desire to connect with me back in their faces if I throw them over for possible comments on that funny video I posted.
So I have been really working on this the last few days and I ain’t gonna lie. It’s been hard because just like you don’t often realize how many M&M’s you stuffed into your mouth until you look down and count them, I didn’t realize how attached I am to checking stuff until I decided to stop doing it so much. I would be lying to you if I told you that I was going cold turkey on this, but I am really, really trying. And it has been very rewarding.
Because there is a time for Facebook and web-surfing and funny things that the little girl who plays Diane on “Black-ish” said (because that little girl is comedy GOLD). And there is even time for the friends who I talk to exclusively on Facebook. But I need to set that time aside and not have that impede the people in front of me. Because that’s not right.
This is why I know that this needs to be a life-change for me, and not just a thing I try for a week. Because people are precious. And important. And I am putting down my phone now and closing the laptop.
HI! How are you doing?
Do you have a phone-checking issue? Would you take the challenge to put it down around other people?