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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