Like most people growing up in the 21st century, I am glued to my phone. Even after I typed that first sentence, I checked my phone and texted one of my friends back. The phone addiction is incredibly unhealthy but has become so common across society that it is strange to find people who don't check their phones multiple times an hour. Sometimes, I reflect on just how much time I waste scrolling through my feeds with all the same posts or carrying on with meaningless Snapchats back and forth and I am disappointed in myself. It even became so bad that I had to hide the "Screen Time" widget on my iPhone because the numerical reports of how many hours I spent daily on my phone bothered me. If this sounds anything like you, it's time we delve further into the topic and realize how much time and energy we're wasting on Instagram, per se, and vow to be more productive with our lives.
The first problem is merely that our phones are always on us. If there is never a time where your phone is completely removed from your environment, this is going to be a losing battle. I know that for me, if my phone is placed right next to me, or even in the same room, I'm going to sit there convincing myself that there is a reason to check it until I finally do. And, it rarely ends up being a quick check. It starts by opening one text message, then suddenly, I'm on my Instagram feed that I checked 7 minutes ago, and then I see a Snapchat that I obviously have to check right then and there or the world will end. Right?
Personally, it's a very out of sight, out of mind concept. The reason we're checking notifications so regularly is that the dreaded FOMO (fear of missing out) effect kicks into full gear when we see messages but aren't engaging with them. We think that if we don't open the message or read the post immediately, we're going to miss an opportunity, most likely a social one, that will no longer be available to us when we come around to our phones later on.
This isn't a completely invalid "fear" to have. Some plans are made on the fly and if you don't respond rather quickly, you will miss out on the opportunity. Also, I'd like to make it clear that I believe phone messages can be time sensitive and incredibly important. But, considering the nature of what phones have become to this generation, which is a constant source of entertainment and distraction, it's probable that a large portion of phone time could be, and should be, invested into more important and productive daily activities. These alternative activities don't necessarily have to be working or studying, for example. They could be having a conversation with a friend in person rather than aimlessly snapchatting back and forth from both your dorm rooms. Or, even taking a 30-minute walk without your phone in your pocket. This can be very transformative.
Once we physically remove ourselves from the environment that our phones are in and are unaware of what is occurring on screen, it's harder for our worries of "missing out" to take over because what we could be "missing out" on isn't visually apparent to us. This feeling is not immediate — the first few minutes away from a phone can be accompanied with feelings of stress and wonder about what is going on in the virtual world. Eventually, though, those feelings simmer and phone-less time can be really peaceful and cleansing.
Another component of this problem is the effects of social media on people nowadays. It's pretty much implied that, at least for the kids of our generation, if you have a phone, you are on at least one social media site. Social media is like a vacuum — it's going suck everyone and everything in until the plug is pulled. Social media has been scientifically proven to have harmful effects on the mental health, confidence, and focus of a person. And the crazy part is most of what is on social media isn't reflective of real life. According to social media, most people's lives are perfect and no one has ever had a bad hair day. False.
Since many posts aren't depicting true human experiences or emotions, rather they're just a display of the best of those two components, why is it taking over so much of our mental space? Why are we giving it the power to let us feel down on ourselves, to compare ourselves, and convincing ourselves that we need to work equally as hard to post similarly and perhaps artificially? This should not be the case. It is in our power as users to stop holding such authority to social media.
If there is anything this message should convince you to do, it's to divorce yourself from your phone every once in a while for a little bit, at least. Take it from the person who began this article explaining how I am glued to my phone. Some of the best times I can recount from the past few months have been when I've been away from my phone enjoying real life experiences. I've been all-around happier and more productive, and you will be, too. Spend less time living in your phone and more time without it. We are the ones who can pull the plug on the iPhone vacuums that consume our daily lives.