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Screen Slaves

Screen Slaves - Krabi Magazine article
‘I left my phone at home’

It dawns on me. Riding the minivan to Krabi airport, the prospect of two weeks in Australia with no phone, ok breathe. It’s not as though I can ask the bus to turn around just so I can check Whatsapp. Chuckling to myself, I realise I brought this on, a few weeks ago walking down to the beach I had a rant.

People were taking the time to sit and observe the spectacular, natural, stunning sunset-a spectrum of colours bouncing off the waves, the globe of red falling in the sky like God is putting on the finest display of beauty. But, was anyone watching?!

No. I saw people on Facebook, playing candy crush, checking emails, selfie after selfie, then taking that winning sunset picture, uploading it so poor friends back home ‘like’ and then complain that it’s raining.

Can you even imagine what you did before the smart phone? Think about the times waiting for a bus or making a plan to meet a friend and actually sticking with it. But, it’s not all bad, on the flip side rather than waiting in the rain you can check the bus times and avoid carrying an atlas if you get lost or are running late to meet friends.

This is not a criticism for the technology that makes life easier, e.g. the recently discovered app in Australia that allows you to book a taxi by selecting one close by on a map and watch it drive to your door. Genius! What strikes and saddens me is the use of phones to feed our social media addiction, in real-time social situations. Why does it matter what John is watching on his Friday night in when you are sitting with your loved one enjoying conversation and perhaps a beverage over dinner. When did it become acceptable to pick up and check your phone in the middle of a conversation?

The world of social media does have its uses. It is an intrinsic part of my daily life, I use Facebook and Twitter regularly, connecting with people globally for my work and personal life, which helps when living on an isolated island, but even though WiFi does exist in every other café here, there is no compelling need for myself or friends to check smart phones when we are out.

The most newsworthy topic regarding social media on smart phones is the addiction to it, the sense that people can feel symptoms of withdrawal. According to new data from digital marketing firm ExactTarget. On average, consumers spend 3.3 hours each day using their smartphones. One of the biggest reasons is to virtually interact with their friends. 75% of smartphone owners say they check a social network at least once a day from their device.

Those 3.3 hours mount up into 23.1 hours a week, that’s an entire day on your phone with no sleep! A whole day for reading a book, or two or three, at least 10 films, there would finally be time for exercise or you could just talk to loved ones-imagine building real relationships not cyber ones.

The other consideration of smart phone overuse is bad posture. The way we lean over our phones, squint our eyes, walk and text at the same time and imitate the exact posture of sitting hunched at your desk all day.

I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.’ – Albert Einstein

So, next time you observe the sunset consider watching, sitting, and taking it all in, experiencing and recording it in your mind. Be in that present moment, thinking about how it makes you feel, what it stirs in you, emotionally and physically and not instantly feeling the need to share the image with the world. Because how will they ever really see the colours, hear the medley of insects, feel the ease and taste the happy hour cocktail where you sit talk and enjoy with the people you love. Without checking your phone once.

5 ways to reduce your smart phone use
  1. Ban it before breakfast.
  2. When you go out in the evening leave it at home.
  3. Have a rule not to have phones out on tables, when eating or someone is talking to you.
  4. Turn it off at night, an hour before bed.
  5. Consider making a phone call before you text.