Slave of Smartphone and Instant messaging

This article was published in +977 (a Nepalese Lifestyle Magazine in Australia) in Nov 2012 issue. 

“Tring!!!” mobile phone rings. Within a second, everyone in the restaurant takes their phone out and checks for call/sms/mms/Facebook alert or Tweets.

That is a common scenario I see everywhere. Today, when you walk into a restaurant, you will notice that almost everyone has his or her phone out, and they’re texting, emailing, tweeting, or updating a Facebook status. Even though we are socialising and having a great time, a ring from our mobile phone will stop what we are doing and we start checking our phones.

There was a time when visiting a restaurant with a friend/family meant enjoying a tasty meal together, having an engaging conversation and updating each other about one’s life. These days with smartphone in our hands checking Facebook while having a conversation, tweeting a photo of a dish during the meal and taking a call seems to be accepted behaviour.

If you travel using public transport, look around and I am sure you will see almost every single person staring at their phone. The worst and dangerous ones are the ones who drive while talking or texting on a phone.

Also what about those who talk on the phone while someone is trying to serve them, completely ignoring the person.

Don’t get me wrong, I am just as attached to my smartphone as anyone. I love gadgets and technology in general. But lately I have realised that the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is check my phone for emails, messages, Facebook alerts and Tweets. Like many people, I have become so addicted to my smartphone that it is hard for me to go an hour without checking my e-mail, Twitter or Facebook alerts. It is with me, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.

I am sure I have been doing it for a while but I only realised what I was doing when I saw my husband reading his eBook on his smartphone all the time.  After a long day work when we come back home, we were sitting in the same room but often, he is reading his book while I am watching TV or using my phone to Facebook, Tweet or just surf internet. We were in the same room but we were not really talking. That moment, I realized that I wanted to get out of the slavery of phone.

Another habit that I realised I had was that I tend to look for my phone every time a pop alert for email, Facebook, Twitter rings so my smartphone was constantly demanding a significant part of my attention taking away my attention from just about anything instantly and consistently.

I realised that rather than me using a phone, I was the slave of it and its instant messaging. The ability to instantly connect with anyone has its advantages but it comes with a price. We pay the price in terms of the time which we feel we have so less of in this busy world.

I have also read about a research which proved the following.

Those who are constantly breaking away from tasks to react to email or text messages suffer similar effects on the mind equivalent to losing a night’s sleep.”

So lately I have changed the way I use my smart phone. In other words I have stopped being used by my smartphone but start using it again.

  • I know all the emails and messages I check in my phone can wait and people can always call if things are important, so I check them a couple of times in a day rather than as soon as a message lands in my inbox.
  • I turned off all the alert sound from Facebook and Twitter so it doesn’t pop on while I am in the middle of something urging me to check it instantly.
  • I make sure I put my phone inside my bag or pocket when I am meeting people.
  • At home, phones stay in the table so no need to check every 5 minutes.
  • I turn the internet off on the mobile before going to bed.

I am sure lots of you might have similar habit like mine so go ahead and try not to use for phone for an hour. See if you get more things done without getting distracted. Turn off all the alerts and have a quiet and piece time for a change.

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18 responses to “Slave of Smartphone and Instant messaging

  1. Slave is a good word for it!
    It is easy to get fixated on checking Facebook and email all the time – which I once did – and you forget that a lot of the time there is actually nothing very interesting there.
    I went out for a meal with a friend a few months ago, who I hadn’t seen in years, and when we sat at the table, he said “I want to enjoy this so I am turning my phone off.” I think more people should try that!

  2. After being in many social settings seeing people just staring at their phones whether it was on the train, at a restaurant or anywhere i became disgusted. Which is why i recently went from an iPhone to a pay as you go phone. There is NO need to have a computer in your pocket 24/7. Call/Text. If you want (Not need) to facebook or that other crap do it on the computer. When you start to take this approach you are less distracted and can go about your day at ease.. Don’t just complain and comment on it MAKE a change.

  3. LOL…yes…one must leave the phone at home every now and then…especially if out with a loved one or walking out in nature…my favorite thing to do is observe people at the airport…everyone with their head down…people are going to start having chronic neck and finger problems.

  4. This is exactly what mobile phone companies want in their customers to be doing. Anyone who can break the addiction deserves to be praised.

  5. I have seen lots of people who are busy with their phones than with their friends, or family around them even during dinner or lunch or some kind of gathering. Last time some of my Thai friends were giving me fairwell party and we were in one restaurant. I saw a couple sitting next to us — probably husband and wife — not even gf-bf as I could see and guess. They were more busy with their phones than with each other. I saw them whole time hanging with their phones and barely looking at each other — either on food or on phone. Quite weird. I don’t understand, if they love their phone that much, why don’t they better marry phone rather than a human beings.

    • That is what I was talking about. These days people completely hooked up on their phone and tables that they are not seeing what they are doing. I really don’t want to be that couple so I make sure I use appropriate use of my phone. Sometimes I feel guilty when I check my phone and the other person is waiting for you to respond.

  6. I totally agree with your post, thanks for bringing this up. I hate this smartphone addiction. Although smartphones are a great breakthrough in technology and makes your life easier in lot of ways, we should not be addicted to it and we should not let it make too much dependent on it.

  7. Been there done that. I fancied this thing so much until I got one. Now I got rid of it, I don’t miss a thing about it. I don’t understand how people get hooked up to it forever. Only time I wish I still had this crap called “smartphone” is when I want to check/update my Google schedule instantly. Matter of fact, i never relied on my Google schedule when I had a smartphone. I can’t get rid of worse crap called Facebook though. For some strange reason, I feel that I may in some time of my life need all these “friends” from my Facebook, how ridiculous?

    P.S. : I haven’t read your post yet, I will do that now. Saw the title and jumped on to comment. 🙂

    • I am glad at least you are still using Facebook.
      I am not even sure how you can go back after using Smartphone.
      I used to have blackberry before and S2 now and my whole life is in the phone. My appointments, calendar, to do list and what not. Wish I have courage like yours to get rid of it.
      On the Facebook note, I am sure out of all the friends in Facebook, there are some good ones you will like to keep in touch with. I am glad that my parents are on my Facebook so they can see how things are with me via photos there. 🙂

  8. Nice article, and well done!

    I have no cell phone currently, the whole unemployment thing. I do miss one, and suppose I’d find some casual use for say… a tablet, but I’m a writer, and that necessitates a desktop. (Can’t write with a laptop, I need an ergonomic keyboard.) When I’m in a car, I prefer either NPR or music as accompaniment, with contact kept at a distance.

  9. You are absolutely right.. I also feel my smartphone is using me instead of me using it.. lol
    We are so addicted to the smartphones, even while cooking in kitchen, if I have to know something about a dish or a ingredient, I want my phone to google..
    While discussing on any topic, if some one is trying to prove you wrong, we take out our phn and Google to prove ourselves right.. so conversation stops..
    Heights – when I miss my family too much, I feel like looking up on google to see how they all are and what they are doing right this minute without disturbing them !! 🙂

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