May 3, 2021

just turn it off: the antidote to our phone addiction problem.

just turn it off: the antidote to our phone addiction problem.

It’s 7 a.m. You start work in two hours. Before you begin, you need to eat, shower, pack a lunch and get ready for the busy day ahead. Your time is precious and you know you can’t waste it.

So why do you?

After turning off your phone’s alarm, you open up Instagram, and then TikTok. Maybe read an e-mail or two. Twenty minutes pass by. And then 30.

It's no wonder why you “don’t have time” for that passion project, or calling your friend, or that workout.

Because you, me, all of us, spend too many of our precious moments hunched over a tiny glowing screen.

And it’s a big problem.

We think our phones help us stay connected.

Do they?

Or are we more disconnected than we’ve ever been?

We think our devices help us further develop relationships. After all, we’re in multiple group messages, sending and receiving nearly a hundred texts a day to friends, family and colleagues.

We’re in constant communication, but are we really communicating? 

If a stranger scrolled through your text threads, what would they learn about you? Anything? Would they learn about your passions? Your fears? How about your hopes and dreams?

Or would they find endless hours of emptiness?

When we’re actually with our loved ones, perhaps watching a game or at the brewery, we still retreat into our screens, placing digital interaction above the power of being here with the people we care most about. 

Far too often, the present moment, one of life’s most precious commodities, is wasted. 

All because we can’t control ourselves.

At that rate, are we even with our people at all?

We’ve abused the phone’s power. We’ve wrapped our entire identities into one tiny screen. We reach for our pockets, thinking we’ve felt a vibration, even though we haven’t. We begin a task, but then something pops up, eventually leading us down a rabbit hole, the “important” task now a secondary priority.

And when we go without our phones, we feel helpless. Like we’ve lost a part of our soul, a part of us.

But it’s necessary.

If you want more time, better relationships, and increased output, then you know what you need to do.

Just turn it off.

Leave it at home.

Give it to a friend.

Something, anything.

Because right now, our phones control us.

And when we lose control, we lose ourselves.


This essay appears on today's podcast, which you can also watch here.