It was a few days after Christmas and I was at the dinner table with Mum and some family friends. We were in great conversation. Then... ring ring… ring ring… went the home phone. For our guests it was as if there was a crying baby in the room next door and it needed attention immediately. Although that is something I’m still to experience I hear that in some cases it’s good to leave that too! The guests couldn’t believe this and yes it would have been stink if it had been a phone call to say if we went to the airport now we could fly anywhere we wanted, first class, for free, but chances were it wasn’t.
A couple of weeks later I was watching an interview with Simon Sinek called ‘Millennials in the Workplace’. This guy is AWESOME and I’d recommend his talks for people who have some time to fill. He’s good, he’s real good in terms of thought provoking ideas that can enhance ones quality of life. Within the talk where he’s highlighting an impact of social media and technology he mentioned something that reminded me of that dinner a few weeks earlier... “If you’re sitting at a dinner with your friends and you’re texting someone who’s not there that’s a problem”.
The talk got me thinking seriously about the intrusion of phones and social media. I asked myself why do I take my phone everywhere I go? My answers made me sound dependent and when my answer was "but I keep my money cards in the phone-case" I decided to dust off my wallet.
That evening I went out to dinner with friends purposely leaving my phone on the kitchen bench. Up till now I thought I was pretty good at just leaving my phone in a pocket. But without it completely I felt a greater sense of independence and freedom – I didn’t have to worry about losing it, breaking it, responding to someone who wasn’t even there. It enabled me to be more creative, and when I saw a phone on every other table in the restaurant I simply thought to myself "Why?".
When asked about my holiday I couldn’t just show the photos on my phone. I actually enjoyed taking people on an adventure as I described the holiday.
When a phone rang, beeped, or lit up, and people checked to see if it was theirs, my focus stayed on who I was with – not who I wasn’t with.
And without the distraction of social media during times of solitude I was able to think my own thoughts and form new connections. I was living!
At the end of the evening I did wonder how I was going to get home when everyone was ordering Uber. But then I remembered this thing called a Taxi and like an Uber that drove me home too.
I feel like such a Millennial right now, but yes my phone comes more places with me than anything else I own. During the evening without it I noticed heightened levels of connection, inspiration and awareness of my surrounds, equally I thought how bizarre it would have been for my grandparents to even conceptualise a night out without a phone.
I’m still appreciative of phones and social media, they are powerful tools in my life. But when I’m at dinner, when I’m in a meeting, when I’m with friends, I want to ignore the ringing phone, eliminate the distractions of the beep, the lit screen and the vibrate. To embrace the present and enjoy increased levels of clarity, inspiration and focus.