Finding freedom from my device

While we were away last weekend, in an effort to avoid overage charges on our data plan (spoiler alert, we went over anyway), I turned off all notifications from apps on my phone. No Instagram banners, no red buttons to tell me I had 64 unread emails, no bzz bzz from Facebook Messenger.

This crazy, unexpected thing happened.

My phone got boring.

Without the screen lighting up to tell me someone was interacting with me on the internet (true or not true? hmm) and no banner begging me to swipe right and open that app, it just went dormant and lost a bit of its appeal.

It was then I became aware—and a little ashamed—of how frequently I had been absentmindedly swiping apps open and beginning to scroll.

See, I like a clean surface on my phone. I have trouble ignoring alerts, texts, and banners because I know the clutter is just sitting there, waiting to be cleared off. I just need them to be off my screen. 

But I hadn’t realized that the result of this madness was that I’d unwittingly trained myself to respond to the dang thing lighting up. Light! Swipe! Scroll! Like! And then 45 minutes later…

I guess Pavlov was onto something.

Full disclosure, I didn’t stop using it altogether. I confess, I couldn’t seem to stop myself from posting the Instagram gold that is fall leaves and cute kids. But gosh, it was such a simple change to just turn the junk off and enjoy the silence. And what was I missing out on by not getting my eyeballs onto every new status, share, tweet, photo?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

But if I’d been more interested in checking out what was happening elsewhere via the device in my hand than engaging with my people and my surroundings right then and there? I’d have missed everything that mattered—watching my beautiful children experience a piece of God’s creation, the crunch of leaves beneath my feet, the colorful canopies of trees, the sweet smell of mountain air, the feeling of chill through my jacket from fall breezes, meaningful conversations with my husband.

Everything. 

***

This other thing happened, too, while notifications were off—secondary but worth mentioning: My mind seemed to clear. I felt more on top of things. More organized, less forgetful. More conversational, less likely to trail off mid-sentence.

I’ve blamed my increased level of scatterbrained-ness over the last few years on bringing children into the world, but now I’m wondering if I should have been pointing the finger at myself, phone in hand, instead of at my darling daughters.

Has research been done on this? Probably. There’s something there, I am sure of it.

***

It’s easy to argue with myself about whether I need the notifications. I help manage a couple of social media accounts—my husband’s business pages and those for The Drafting Desk—so having alerts turned off gives me a small amount of worry. What if a potential customer asks a question? What if a follower leaves a heartfelt comment that beckons a response? What if a spammer leaves a comment that needs to be deleted? 

So then I have to ask myself: Is this people-pleasing rearing its ugly head again? Or is everything going to be okay if I take care of it within 24 hours instead of within 24 seconds? What matters, and what doesn’t?

I think I already know the answer.

And for now, the alerts are staying off.

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***

As a little bonus, here are some other tried and true methods for finding freedom from your device:

Leaving it within reach of your 2-year-old.

Leaving it within reach of your 8-year-old.

Getting carsick in the passenger seat.

Allowing it to fall between couch cushions.

Setting it down in the 2-year-old’s room and then putting her down for a nap. (Risking naptime disruption is not worth it.)

Leaving it in the car. (You can’t go retrieve it because opening and closing the front door might wake up the 2-year-old. See above.)

Forgetting to charge it.

Receiving a warning text from your provider that you only have 10% of your data for the month left when there are still 12 days until the next billing period starts.

See? It’s easy. Here’s to freedom.


Click here to see all posts from the Grace, Freedom, & the Rules series.

{This series is part of the Write 31 Days challenge.} 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Finding freedom from my device

  1. I am thankful I didn’t have to deal with phones while raising children. There were enough distractions. It is good for you to find freedom from this. I keep mine on Mute, that solves the problem. When I want to look at it, sit down for a few minutes, take care of what I need to, and put it back down and away from where I can see it. I know it is difficult sweetie, especially with the business you do on it. I try and do all my church and mission on my computer in the den. love you, Aunt Dee

    P. S. Keep up the good work! love your blog!

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