Tonight, Erin and I attended a dinner for the Kappa Mu Epsilon inductee ceremony. Before we went to our table, I slipped my phone into my coat pocket and hung my coat at the door instead of taking my coat to the table. During the course of our evening, I reached for my empty pocket at least three times.
In other words, I tried to get a “hit” from my addiction three times in the span of only an hour and 15 minutes.
Last Friday, when we had dinner with friends in Lawrence, I purposefully left my phone in the car before entering the Six Mile Chop House. It was the same story. I reached for that empty pocket at least three times.
I’ve taken many steps to curb this addiction.
- Notifications have all been turned off on nearly everything. My phone rings when someone calls, and it buzzes when specific people text (but no lights blink).
- Blue light filter is always on.
- Do not disturb is set for 11pm-6am.
- I leave my phone behind or hide it when I’m going to be engaging in conversation with people.
But, alas, these have been futile attempts. The addiction remains.
Managing the Addiction
If I were to get rid of the smartphone entirely, I would eventually get rid of that constant twitch of reaching for my pocket. But for what gain? This seems like a drastic move for this day and age.
I’ve been listening to Robert Greene’s The Laws of Human Nature on my walks to and from work. Although he doesn’t talk specifically about smart phone use, he does bring up an important point about human nature.
Fighting human nature is a futile effort. Instead, you need to work with it, and use it to your advantage. Even when our nature seems to be working against us.
Instead of getting myself worked up about my addiction, I own it and not let it bother me. So what if I reach for my empty pocket three or more times at dinner. The phone wasn’t there, and the conversation survived. Even without knowing instantly the place we visited in Grand Rapids that one time, or the name of the actress that starred in that old TV series we loved so much, or getting to see that picture we took of those waterfalls in North Carolina.
How can I use this addiction to my advantage, though? First step is to manage it as best you can with the pointers I gave above. Here are some ideas to try once you can establish the last bullet point above. Each time I reach for my empty pocket, pick any of the following:
- I must complement someone at the table, and have a few complements ready to go for the inevitable.
- I must ask an engaging question, or purposefully and actively listen to those around me instead of simply waiting to speak.
- Dig deep in my mind for clues and descriptions of what it was I was trying to look up on my phone, and give them to those around me to see if you can’t come up with the information on your own (only if it is actually important to the conversation).
- Take a long, slow, inhalation of breath. Smile. Look around and be mindful of how amazing life is in this moment of deprivation.
Understand your nature. Manage it. Own it.
Then, use it to your advantage.