Today I want to challenge you. I want you to stop and think when was the last time I have had a meaningful conversation with my partner, my children, my loved ones and I didn’t have a phone in my hand. You see, I quit social networks on my phone. It was tough, it was a challenge, and it took all I had to stay strong, break a dysfunctional habit and took a long time before I saw a benefit.
But that time is now.
Now I sit in a chair and look around, mostly at other people all looking down at their phones, no social awareness, no interaction with the people in the room, nothing. It’s just a moment in time lost in meaningless interactions with people we either don’t know or barely know. While the people we are with face to face with are missing out on the fundamental interactions we all need as human beings, we think we are getting equal satisfaction, but we are fooling ourselves.
Are you hearing what I am saying, or are you listening?
There is a vast difference, and this is where the critical point to my argument exists. Don’t hear what the person has to say, listen to what they are saying and engage them. Make eye contact and show interest and emotion.
Now that I have broken the pattern of “anti” social media, I like to test the theory.
I can now see what the differences are. I often make statements that may get a nod or even a reply, but what I have said should have invoked a stern response — not a subtle nod and then back to the phone. I often stop mid-sentence, it’s a strange thing to do, but it does highlight the current engagement present with the other person in the room. It frequently goes unnoticed.
How it impacts our children
I’ve also learned from what I’ve seen that our children are continually trying to get our attention, more than ever and a lot more than when I was a child. If my parents were not paying attention to me, it was because I was interrupting them. Were they focused on something important? They probably were. Unfortunately nowadays an Ellen Degeneres video is not more important than what a child has to say, but they wait, they try again and often walk away without us even noticing what has happened.
I often see children acting out when they are in public with their parents.
Why is that? It’s because the parents have a built-in baby sitter in their hand, in my day it was a television, today it’s the mobile phone, but not for the children, for the adults. This strange behaviour gets an incredibly odd reaction when the children are punished for acting out. Their actions are often because the adults are amusing themselves on social media while the children are isolated, alone and bored.
Are you gaining or losing?
I think you know the answer to this problem. It’s not apparent to us when we are in the moment. How can we change our behaviour? A photo series by Eri Pickersgill titled removed highlights just how pathetic we look when we ignore the face to face opportunities engaging in the “anti” social interactions.
How do I change my behaviour?
Human beings create patterns, and when we have a pattern set, it’s hard to break it. By starting to minimise our screen time, and not by using the screen time app on your phone, begin by putting your phone down when you are in the company of others. Place the device out of your reach so when you are tempted to pick it up, you have to stand up and walk to it. Making these changes will highlight just how much you subconsciously reach for the device.
Start a conversation by asking an open-ended question; this promotes the start of a healthy conversion and stops the person from looking up from their device and giving you a yes or no answer.
Devices in Bed
A phone in bed a the sure-fire way to break down a relationship, healthy conversation, interaction and importantly, affection and focus on your partner. Your bedroom is a place for your relationship to thrive, for intimate moments and deep and meaningful conversation. When a device is present, none of this occurs. When both people in the relationship are participating in high use of a device, then no one notices the relationship deteriorating. It becomes the norm, but this doesn’t make it right, be the one to initiate the change, suggest one or two nights a week where phones are not allowed in the bedroom.
The morning routine
What’s the first thing you do in the morning? If you had your phone in bed the night before its probably your phone that gets your first glance. What you are doing is setting up your day, your thoughts and emotions based on what is often an unrealistic view. Your friends and what is supposedly happening in their lives are usually not as it seems.
Have you ever noticed that not many people post the things that are mundane or didn’t quite go to plan? People do this because it’s not engaging to anyone, so they publish the best glimpses of their lives. But this is not a realistic view you should be using to frame your day. Now your day is skewed by a wall full of one-sided and often unrealistic outcomes, and you are comparing yourself to these events. You are setting yourself up for failure before you have even stepped out of bed.
Time management, gone wrong
Humans are bad at multitasking, Show me someone that says they are a great multitasker, and I’ll show you a liar. We often multitask on social networks, but we don’t do each job as fast or as efficiently as possible when we multitask. We let our boundaries slip because we don’t realise how much time is lost thumbing our way through the day.
Social anxiety and FOMO (fear of missing out)
Social media has conditioned us to become very anti-social and to accept that this is perhaps social, it isn’t. The time lost of menial videos, posts of unrealistic outcomes and the constant ads served to us trying to convince us that we are so close to success that if we don’t get there, then we are a complete failure. The reality is so far from the truth; it’s frightening.
Challenge yourself to engage
Take small steps to break the pattern slowly; every time you make a change, you are creating a better pattern. If you are looking for a fast way to make changes and improve your relationships with your partner, children or just your real social network, contact us for an appointment and make changes faster and at a higher level than you thought was possible.