Remember life before these little devices were in everyone’s hands?
A few months ago, I did what no other self-respecting twenty-something NYC blogger would do voluntarily: I took myself off Twitter. And Instagram. And Facebook. My decision to kill off my online avatars was driven by one simple reason: I realized I was spending more time checking my social media feeds than actually hanging out with my friends. The first post-account-deletion days were tough—suddenly, fiddling with my iPhone was a lot less fun. After a while, though, the urge to hit the refresh button died down. I started making more dinner plans and feeling less distracted. Now I’m contemplating making a New Year’s Resolution to impose even more limits on how I use my iPhone: I want to go completely phone-less at least one day a week.
Apparently I’m not alone. As The New York Times reports, there’s a growing movement organized around unplugging from your smartphone, if only for the duration of a happy hour.
The locus of the movement is in tech-dominated San Francisco, where events like a monthly Device Free Drinks meetup are catching on (ironically enough) through social media channels. Organized by Levi Felix, a former techie, and his girlfriend Brooke Dean, the party requires participants to surrender their smartphones at the door of a local bar and spend the next few hours playing board games and swapping icebreaker questions with strangers. One might argue that it’s nothing new—after all, bars have been hosting game nights since time immemorial—but the goal is to encourage people to be more attentive to each other and overcome their digital addictions, an issue now coming more and more to the forefront of people’s minds. Felix has also imagined the possibility of encouraging cafes to instate “coldspots,” tech-free zones where nary a wifi-enabled tablet device or cell phone will be allowed.
While I’d totally love to meet the fellow smartphone-weary, take it from me: it doesn’t require a group bar gathering to go off the grid once in a while. (It also doesn’t take board games or ice breakers to help you converse with friendly folks in a room.) Even if you’re a proud social media fiend like many of my coworkers, taking a break from your smartphone can lower your stress levels. You don’t have to be as extreme as me. Start with an easy-to-follow New Year’s Resolution to grab coffee with a friend once a month—both of you should vow not to check your phones until the last sip.
Would you ever consider limiting your smartphone use or even going cold turkey once in a while?
One unexpected consequence of smartphone usage: bacteria can build up on your screen, leading to breakouts. Make sure to wipe your screen down regularly with a cleansing wipe.