Just Shut It Off Challenge

By Elyse D. Foster

The power of a smart phone is ubiquitous, your smart phone has more computing power than all of NASA when it first put men on the moon in 1969.  We use them for navigating, photography, video production, reservations, to pay for all sorts of stuff from coffee to our parking charges.  They create reminders, assist with medical needs, diagnose car repairs, check our remote battery, track our location and it’s a flashlight and an alarm.  It is no wonder we keep them with us and refer to them often. We have never been so connected.  Therein lies the good and bad news.

When did the tool become the obsession?  On average we spend over 3 hours per day on our phones1 and send 34 text messages per person per day. 2   And this does not include the time we spend on our computers.  Experts tell us we take in 500% more information on a daily basis than we did in 1990.  People stare at cell phones in restaurants, chat away at the doctor’s office, carry on conversations while speaking with a pharmacist, while driving and crossing the street into traffic.  We are a nation of the distracted.  More and more we hear about the danger of the constant barrage of information.

Many are worried about the invasion of our privacy that comes with the constant connection, however is that the biggest issue?

‘When we talk about privacy, we tend to think about people spying on us online and harvesting our data. But just as dangerous — perhaps more so — is the way that the omnipresent, in-your-pocket internet can coax us into destroying our own inner wilderness.’ 3

I propose that it is time to take some of our attention back, because we can.  Check your cell phone when entering a restaurant or at home before having a meal or conversation with your loved ones.  Don’t look at it or your tablet or computer between 7:00 PM and 9:00 AM.  Then graduate to schedule whole days without devices, vacations where there is no Wi-Fi.  Instead consider meditation every day, even if only for a few minutes.  Take a walk and challenge yourself not to look at your phone, not once.  After a week of this take stock, how do you feel?  I have tried this and I don’t miss the phone, tablet, or computer.

I prefer that it not own me nor define my waking moments.  Are you up to the challenge?


1comScore 2017 Cross Platform Future in Focus Report, Future in Focus
2Statistics Brain Research institute
3Kennedy, Pagan, The Land Where the Internet Ends, NYT, June 2019, Where the Internet Ends
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