When I first started university I was, shall we say, a bit too attached to home. By this I mean, I had just started a post-graduate degree in Journalism in New York, yet my heart (my family, my friends, and my boyfriend) were home in San Francisco, California.
What’s a homesick, lonely girl to do, but text and chat on her cell phone every waking hour to keep tabs on what’s going on at home? However, my school work started suffering due to the fact that I was always tired from chatting late into the evening. On top of that, by October I’d made zero new friends in my new city and my cell phone bill topped $700—hardly affordable for a student.
I suddenly realized that I needed to put down my cell phone if I wanted to succeed at school and meet anyone new in this strange, new city I was living in. Sure, using my smart phone to communicate with my loved ones at home was important, but I needed to put some boundaries on my usage—for the success of my schooling and my financial well being as a struggling student. It’s was all too easy for me to take my loneliness and use connections on my smart phone to fill that void. The trouble was, I realized, that I ended up relying on my phone for companionship—and my cell phone addition was taking over my life!
It took me quite a few months to realize that I needed to put down my cell phone if I were ever to forge new connections. Here is how I got my cell phone usage under control…
If we’re bored, lonely, or find ourselves waiting without anything to do, we often reach for our phones to check email, text, or surf the web. However, I’ve since learned that this behavior is rather anti-social and it sends a certain message to those around us: “I’m preoccupied so don’t talk to me!” You have to admit, when you see a person on their phone, you don’t approach them. And when you’re occupied with your phone, you are really cut off from what’s going on around you. Now when I venture out of the house, I’m mindful of my environment. For example, I put down my Samsung Galaxy from Tmobile in class, I sit and look around, listen, and make eye contact with fellow students—and I’ve met some great new friends because of this.
I’ve also learned that limiting my screen time will help me sleep better and more restfully. Regardless of if you sleep alone or with a spouse, too much smart phone use in the bedroom messes drastically with your sleep patterns and the health of everyone in the room by keeping the brain stimulated long after you finish using it. So if you want a restful sleep, do yourself a favor and when you go to bed, leave the cell phone out.
Those smart phones sure are handy—you can text, phone, email, watch television, and shop—all on the one device. However, when you compare cell phone use with say, reading a book or real newspaper, or, I don’t know, going for a walk outside, there are more meaningful ways to stimulate your body and mind. So take a break from the virtual world and go out and enjoy the physical world each day.
Nothing replaces face to face communication and I learned this the difficult way with said boyfriend back home in San Francisco. I found that sharing every little tid-bit of my life in New York with him via my smart phone actually hurt our relationship. It drastically affected the intimacy between us, as well as the communication and verbal skills suffered when we actually did get together. We unfortunately broke up due to this. However, with friends and family back home, I make a point of waiting to tell them big news in person. It’s more intimate and it makes the time we spend together truly special.