Turning Off Your Smartphone: More Stress Or Less?

I had to read this article twice. Pretty much nailed it for me. Couldn’t have said it better myself so I’ll just quote the article:

When it comes to creating stress, smartphones are near the top of the list. Although these ubiquitous devices put the world at our fingertips, and seemingly free us from the shackles of the office, they also invade our lives and psyches.

This is something I’ve thought a lot about. I see the way that people are so wrapped up in their smartphones and online devices and it really concerns me. I think people are way too addicted to them. They demand our attention, interrupt relationships, consume our thoughts, and pretty much wipe out any free time we’d normally have if we’re not careful. They insert themselves into the empty spaces of our lives. But we need those empty spaces! In this fast-paced online always connected world, I often wonder if we’ve lost the margin in our lives. Do people even care about margin anymore?

I’m cognizant of how much time I spend in front of screens during the day, whether they be Tv, computer, iPod, etc. It’s really sneaky how it works. While I’m looking at a screen I’m getting fed information and stimulating my mind. I’m being told what to think, told what to believe, leaving little room to weigh my own feelings. No room for creative thought. This is the same reason why books are better than movies- one allows for imagination, the other doesn’t. Personally, I need time to reflect on things, put the pieces of my day and life together and make connections. Without it I feel lost at sea. Margin lets me build bridges in my mind. It’s how I make sense of the things around me. I think if we’re not careful we lose this margin, this breathing space, without knowing it. But if we’re careful we don’t have to!

I appreciate the author of the article suggesting we need predictable time off- time when we deliberately turn off our smart phones, unplug our internet, and turn off the Tv. I wonder how many of us are really able to do this? It’s a discipline for sure. And for those not used to it, it could be kind of boring, leaving a wide open empty space in their life. But I say it’s worth it! It’s worth trying. Those who are never able to disconnect and unplug have lost something. They’ve lost the ability to think, to wonder, to let the mind wander into new creative places. Have we lost the ability to daydream? Or have we been overtaken by Angry Birds or some other mindless video game? The people I admire the most are those who can say ‘no’ to these things- not just on principle but because they know that it’s in the empty spaces where some really wonderful things take place. That’s when we’re most thoughtful, and most creative. Let’s not lose the magic of margin in our lives. It might open up a whole new world for us.

Today we spent a couple hours over at our friend’s house babysitting for her four kids. We kicked the soccer ball around, played a card game, and I left to go back home. Kim is still over there doing a girls movie night.

So I’m home, and since I’ll be by myself for a little while I think I’ll get a little ice creme. Yep, that sounds good. I hop on the motorbike and drive down the road to a little convenience store. As I enter I’m immediately greeted by the owner- a older woman sitting on a stool supervising the action (or does she just have nothing better to do?). I head to the freezer, grab a tub of choco-chip ice creme (the good stuff, mind you), and head to the checkout line. The owner strikes up a conversation with me, ‘Ohh, ngidam Kim ya?”, in the local language. I think she’s asking if Kim is babysitting now. This is a fair assumption because usually everybody in our neighborhood knows EVERYTHING we are doing at all times. So I say yes, Kim is babysitting. But not just Kim! Going a little further I tell her I was ‘babysitting’ too. Awkward laugh. . . then to my horror I realize I said something horribly wrong. She wasn’t asking me about babysitting, she was asking me if Kim was having pregnancy cravings. . . that’s why I’m buying the ice creme, right? So I accidentally said I have pregnancy cravings too.

Uhhh. . . I mean. . .

There’s no way to rescue myself from that one. What do I say, “haha, just kidding.” So I try to act confident, smile, and bee-line to my motorbike. Might be best to stay indoors tonight. Douse my pregnancy cravings with a big bowl of ice creme!