So, today I Tweeted…


“Goodbye iPhone4, hello old fashioned flip phone! Let’s see how this goes. Modulating my online time.”

And I was pretty darn happy about the whole thing. I felt this sudden burst of freedom. Pretty exhilarating. A number of experiences led me here.

1. Increasingly, there’s a flood of articles in the business, education, and stress-reduction/mindfulness worlds (and other places) about how our constant connectivity is: ruining our capacity to pay attention; making us feel like we must always be plugged in; adversely affecting the actual “meat” of our brains and on and on.

2. I’ve had some experiences involving social interactions (both directly and indirectly) where people gathered together ostensibly to be in the same place together, enjoy each other’s company and what happened? People got sucked into the vortex of their phones and sat motionless staring into the little rectangle of light until someone practically shouted their names to get their attention. “What do you want to eat?” which produced a strange physical withdrawal from the device rivaling some of the best movie special effects. Pupils dilation changes, complete alteration in body language and facial expression. It’s pretty arresting to observe.

3. I also began to realize that I think that I need this thing but maybe I don’t? I mean as a mindfulness coach and teacher, I can watch my own pull to the device. Especially on public transit where I feel the urge to “kill-time” (what an expression!) on the phone but then look around and see that everyone around me is plugged in, bobbing their heads, having virtual experiences, or zoned out, trance like with their devices and that not one of them is actually here on the train or bus with me. And while yes, I’m in business too and recognize that calls and emails need to be returned in a timely fashion. BUT… what does that mean now and what kind of model do I set for my current and future clients/students if I’m mindlessly plugged in, frantic to grab the next opportunity?

4. I realize that I can just try going without. Hell, I’m sure my provider will be able to sell me a new smart phone later if I want it! But, imagine this: Riding the bus or train or walking around phone-less. I can check voicemail a couple of times a day, email too! I can be in charge of my technology, it can serve me and not be my master. 

TIME PASSES…(Post Tweet)

Cell phone provider called back to say, “Whoops, we can’t do that trade out of the iPhone for a flip because of an agreement over the warranty with Apple.”

WHAT? (see hands in air, open to sky, eyebrows raised, mouth agape)

Really?

We persevered long and hard on that call. And now, they need more time to “look for solutions.”

SIGH.

The lady on the customer service end has been very nice and very patient but seems constrained in her desire to help me by company policy and perhaps a bit of manufacturer overlording. (curious) I’m puzzled by the simple fact that the thing I don’t want, a formerly expensive, exclusive hi-tech gadget can’t be gotten rid of for a lower tech, less expensive device. I suggested that the provider just eat the $100 they wanted to charge me for trading a “superior” product for an “inferior” one. This was met with significant radio silence.

So, to be continued…

I hope the nice lady will call back and tell me I can in fact release the tether to the internet over lord. (Oh gosh, it IS Lord Business!)

In the worst case scenario, I’ll have to wait till my contract is up with the provider in December, then get the flip phone I’d prefer to have or change to an old fashioned house phone and maybe a basic flip for emergencies.

Or maybe NOTHING.

I mean really, do I NEED a cell phone? DO any of us really? (Okay, maybe some do.)But what does NEED mean anyway? I need to breathe. Now, that’s a need.

But I bet, that the same way the world spun on without these devices for what…millennia – that – hello? We’d be just fine for a few more.

And we might even find we’re more peaceful. More quiet in the mind. And we could still have iPads and home computers. And we could check our emails, and texts at a more mindful pace and maybe even find the signal amidst all the noise.

And as an addendum, I’ll say this: I am not at all, in case you began to think so, anti-tech. Heck, I’ve been invited to go to Wisdom 2.0 this October in NYC where all we’ll talk about is how to better integrate wisdom, mindfulness and spirituality with the ways we live and work. I look forward to coming home with great new ideas to share with you all.

Stay tuned. Don’t forget to tune in to yourself first of all. A better world starts with each of us.

One breath, heart, world.

We have the solution inside us all the time.

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Author: Hillary Johnson

Improvisational documentary and fine art photographer.

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