A recent Internet trends report by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers suggested that the average person checks their smartphone 150 times a day. I see this problem as one of the biggest plagues in our society since the bubonic plague.
The only difference between the "cell phone plague" and the "bubonic plague" is that the bubonic plague showed physical symptoms of its effects, like coughing, bleeding, etc.
Most people addicted to their cell phones aren't even conscious of what they're doing to their lives, especially their loved ones, friends, and children. Or the people they are putting in harm's way by driving while using their cell phone. According to the National Safety Council, 28 percent of car accidents occur from people talking or text messaging on their cell phones. At least 200,000 car accidents were caused by text messages.
There's even a term for cell phone addiction called "nomophobia," meaning "no mobile phone phobia." For thousands of years, we have operated by having intimate conversations with each other were we laughed, told stories, and connected face to face.
I was at a café recently and saw five teenagers sitting on a couch glued to their cell phones and not talking to each other for an entire hour. They got up to leave, and I saw one of them, still glued to his smart phone, leave his bag. I had to yell across the entire room so loud that I think I disrupted the conversations and work of half the people in the café to tell this young man that he forgot his bag. He runs back, picks up his bag, and says "Thanks man!" then leaves.
It seems like on a day to day basis, I see human beings glued to their cells phones when they could be interacting with other humans. One study suggested that too much stimulus from multiple electronic devices maybe linked to depression and anxiety.
When you're walking home from work, you don't need your headphones blaring in your ear.
There is a much greater place to cultivate positive emotions that will make us happier and more fulfilled. Those emotions are within us, and by blocking these feelings with all of our latest technologies we may be harming ourselves. There's a study that suggests a correlation between mind rumination and depression. By compulsively checking our phones our minds may be ruminating more than ever before.
We need to take back control of our minds and stop compulsively checking our emails, Facebook updates, and text messages. I think we can live a happier and more compassionate world if we tune into ourselves and the people we are speaking with. How many relationships are lost because of lack of communication? Think about what a parent is doing to a child's emotional well-being when they're focused on their cell phone rather than their children.
There is an actual device called a "blokket" where you put your cell phone in it and it shuts out all the signals so you can't receive calls or text messages. Everything in this world is instant gratification -- we focus on how many likes we get on our Facebook post, how many retweets on our Twitter page.
I was in a computer store shopping, and I was talking to the sales clerk about how staring at a screen all day affects the eyes. He responded back right away by saying, "It's just a part of the times." By doing this, we are setting ourselves up in a sort of prison that disconnects us from the rest of the world.
The goal of enjoying life is to be here now, to live a life full of wonder and astonishment. That way we can truly experience all of what life has to offer.
This is what the practice of mindfulness is all about. Jon Kabat-Zinn, one of the pioneers of mindfulness in America, says, "Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; On purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally."
The goal of mindfulness is to be in the moment, when you're doing something. Instead of letting your mind ruminate or compulsively check your cell phone. Work on training your focus on what you're doing -- if you're eating just eat, try to taste everything.
If you are playing with your child at the park, be totally attentive to what they are doing. If you are in a business meeting and someone is speaking, listen to everything they have to say. Cell phones and other technologies are here to stay; it's not the technology -- it's the user. Your cell phone is not part of your body.
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