9th Nov 2017 •

Switch-off Sunday

Upon waking, (unless it’s switch-off Sunday) my first action is to check my phone for important messages – of which there are none, and then switch straight over to the BBC news app to look for apocalyptical news items that might advise me against leaving the house. My phone is an endless stream of up-to-date news, sport, salacious gossip, talking dogs, left swipes, right swipes, and occasional matches (fist-pump!).

If sadly, you’re anything like me, your mobile phone is so integral to daily life that even the realisation it’s located more than a few metres away can lead to mild panic – OK, severe panic, palpitations and cold sweats. We feel pathetically lost without our phones; remote and isolated from the world. Numerous times I’ve almost completed my 10-mile crawl to work only to drive all the way home again to retrieve it.

Oh, and there’s a name for it too: Nomophobia – the fear of being without one’s phone (source: Wikipedia). According to Ofcom we now spend on average 2 hours per day checking our phones – and using my smartphone’s calculator that’s about 30 days a year!

So last Sunday, in recognition of my slight addiction, I decided to spend the day without my mobile (hence the term, switch-off Sunday). ‘No need to worry about emergencies’ I told myself, ‘We managed perfectly well in the 70s and 80s before mobile phones existed.’ So, shortly after waking I switched it off (after checking for messages of course), left it at home and tentatively went about my day. Initially I felt slightly vulnerable and detached from the world, as if somehow my protective armour had been removed; but gradually the feeling dissipated and I forgot about it. After a while I felt more connected with the world than I had for a long time – playing football in the park with my nephews and enjoying a family barbeque – things I would normally do but not without checking my phone every 30 minutes.

Returning home, I wanted to listen to some music. Unfortunately, Sonos needs your smartphone too so I switched on the radio. When I wanted to check the review of a film, I looked it up in a ‘1000 best movies book’ (which somehow felt more satisfying too). As disappointed as I was at being unable to tweet a picture of my evening meal, I had become more immersed in life.

A recent study in the Telegraph informed us that taking work home and being constantly contactable on your phone was (whilst also affecting your work-life balance) worse than drinking and smoking. So now, every Sunday I plan to leave my phone at home and head down the pub. That way I can reduce my mortality and have more fun.

Roll on next switch-off Sunday.



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"Technology can be our best friend, and technology can also be the biggest party pooper of our lives. It interrupts our own story, interrupts our ability to have a thought or a daydream, to imagine something wonderful, because we're too busy bridging the walk from the cafeteria back to the office on the cell phone" - Steven Spielberg

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