Mobile Phones – a good servant, a bad master

I took a little bit of control back over my life today.

For quite a few years now I have been working hard to be present in my life.  Ever since reading Eckhart Tolle’s ‘The Power of Now’ I have been inspired to live in the moment, to give my attention to the present, to exist in the now.  And I have been pretty pleased with the job I have been doing.

I have consciously noticed when I begin to drift into fear about the future, I observe my thoughts and pull myself back to the present.

I have consciously noticed when I begin to drift into pain about the past, I observe my thoughts and pull myself back to the present.

I have consciously noticed when I begin to drift into unease about the unchangeable, I observe my thoughts and pull myself back to the present.

However, despite all of this conscious noticing, there’s been a glaring distraction which I have failed to observe constantly drags me from the now.

Ping!

Ping!

Ping!

 

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I have previously written about the tendency of handheld devices to be a distraction in life. Check out iGroan – a response to parents’ growing relationships with iPhones and other mobile technologies.

Over the years I have employed various strategies to combat the distraction that mobile phones bring to our family home.

The children only get a mobile phone once they are in high school.

There are no mobile phones at the dinner table.

Children don’t have mobile phones in their bedrooms.

We have a charging point in a family area where phones are charged overnight.

We encourage conversation when travelling in the car rather than children being on their phones when in the car with the family.

Despite my attempts to be a diligent user of mobile technologies I had somehow overlooked the insidious control that my phone had over me.

All of these choices have made a difference, however, I became acutely aware of something the other day.

I was mid conversation with a friend and their phone lit up with a Facebook notification. They interrupted our face to face conversation to respond to their online request. It’s become one of our commonplace social mores.

I thought that I was pretty good at not doing this myself, I have generally muted my notifications so I am not distracted from the present. Even with this precaution though I have realised how often my phone flashes with a notification that draws my attention away from the person/people I am with.

The main culprits for me have been emails, Facebook, Messenger, Twitter, Football Apps, Travel Apps, Real Estate Apps and Bandsintown.

Many times, every day, my phone flashes demanding my attention. And more often that not, it gets it.

In fact, I even notice myself frequently glancing at my phone when the light catches it in a certain way…mistakenly thinking that I have just received a notification.

So today, I decided that things need to change.

I am no longer happy being a slave to my iPhone.

A mobile phone can be a good servant but a bad master.

In a conscious attempt to be more present with anyone in my company I have made some deliberate changes.

  1. I have gone into the notification settings on my phone and turned off every notification other than phone, text messages and Skype.  There will be no more flashing of notifications unless I am receiving a call or text. No more email interruptions, real estate alerts, Facebook pings or Twitter intrusion.
  2. I have set my phone up with special ring tones and message alerts for my wife, children and parents.  This way I can make a more active choice as to whether I am immediately drawn to respond to certain calls or texts.

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I am hoping that with these two changes I can continue more consciously in my endeavour to be present in the moment and earnestly connected with those people who I am physically present with.

I’d love to hear your stories of dealing with the distractions of modern mobile technology.