Several members of my family can’t walk down the street without bumping into street poles.
The crisis has become so bad that in Melbourne, where I live, we have pedestrian signals on the ground now so phone zombies can see what color the light is while looking down at their phones.
One too many phone zombies walked across the road without looking and got hit by a car. Sad. The 24/7 phone life makes us feel like dead zombies.
Phones at the gym
The amount of accidents I’ve seen at the gym since I rejoined after coroni-roni is insane. People lift weights while holding a phone. People talk to their boss on the phone while doing dead-lifts and screaming from pain.
I’ve seen multiple guys and gals go flying off treadmills while checking emails and trying to run a Boston Marathon. Someone’s going to die.
Real conversations aren’t had on the phone while at the gym. These are dead conversations. They lack attention to detail and present moment awareness. They’re busy for the sake of being busy.
Exercise requires focus. Phones destroy that.
Phones ruin holidays
Three years back I went on a holiday with my wife. I was exhausted from the job search after being fired by a bad boss.
We arrive at a retreat where there are natural hot springs. You walk into the warm water heated by the earth and relax in the natural salts.
Each hot spring is on the side of a hill. As you walk up the hill your spa options become more glorious.
At the top of the hill is the ultimate prize: a spa overlooking the mountains. Horses run free across the horizon. You may even catch a snake slithering away to freedom in front of you.
As my wife and I get ready to enter the hot tub … we can’t. Roadblock.
Two teenage girls in bikinis are taking selfies with their phones. We expect it only to be a minute so we patiently wait as not to ruin their photo.
But minutes turn into half an hour. They can’t stop taking snaps. As a selfie novice I don’t understand what is going on. My wife explains.
To look good on Instagram you often have to take hundreds of the same shot to get the perfect selfie. You can’t expect to take one photo and get thousands of likes. Instead of waiting we go to another less glamorous spa and come back later where I ask the teenage girls…
“How does all that selfie stuff work?”
One of them pulls out her phone and shows me. All I can see are hundreds of photos.
“Tonight when we get home we will go through them all for a few hours until we find the right one to post. Then we’ll add filters so we look fabulous.”
Imagine if they just sat in the spa overlooking the mountains and enjoyed the view. Taking all these phone photos creates more stress than the worthless ‘likes’ you get as payment from Mark Zuckerberg.
Who goes back and looks at all this content we capture anyway? No one.
I’m willing to bet you didn’t look recently at the photo you took 5 years ago of a Krispy Kreme doughnut. See?
Phones at baby scans
I recently fell into the phone trap. When you find out your wife is having a baby you go to the baby scans like an excited teenage girl.
I even squealed!
The trouble is I couldn’t resist filming the occasion of my baby girl crawling around in the womb and looking chill AF. I felt bad after we left.
Imagine I sat there in the present moment and just had the experience.
Phones for directions while driving
My wife will never drive anywhere without google maps.
It drives me nuts because google is often wrong. It doesn’t know the roads in Melbourne as well as me. Often I follow google’s dumb directions and end up down some one-way street or stuck in obvious peak hour traffic that could have been avoided.
The joy of winging it when you drive is lost too.
Cars are supposed to be freedom machines. We don’t need phones to drive. Your grandparents got around in cars just fine. Why can’t you?
Phones to tell us what to do next
When I had a corporate job a year ago my phone told me what to do. I’d sit in back-to-back meetings about nothing (or revenue — also nothing).
The only way I knew where I had to be next was because of my phone. It was no way to live. My phone became more annoying than my boss. I could never escape.
If I tried to be late my phone would alert me with instant messages of colleagues going “where are you mate?” Software never used to tell us what to do. We never used to be this available.
Work is better without a phone.
We’re smart humans that can think for ourselves.
How to feel alive again
I feel dead with my phone. I become hyper anxious because my phone always forces me to go into the future.
True happiness is found in the present.
Trying to explain the power of a life with no phone for extended periods of time is hard. The best way is to live it.
I have a powerful challenge I want you to do…
Spend a day with your phone dead. Let the battery run out. Don’t recharge it. See what it feels like to teleport back to 1996 when mobile phones were only for rich rockstars who drove Mercedes Benzes with corded carphones.
Notice how you feel. Do you feel less stressed? Does life suck less?
There’s one mind-blowing hidden benefit
Alberto Garcia introduced me to this idea. Many of us suffer from brain fog. We always get told it’s due to diet or not drinking enough water. Alberto has a different thesis.
Brain fog can be caused by consuming too much information.
What’s the source of all the information overload? Your phone. When you wake up with brain fog every day you feel dead. Reduce the information consumption, and you dial up the experience of life.
No phone for hours at a time is how you feel alive again.