Give up your auld sins
Lent – time to put down the smartphone and eat the chocolate
Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent is only around the corner, so how about doing something new?
As kids, most of us will have been forced through the gruelling 40 days and 40 nights of not being able to eat chocolate and sweets. Not a pleasant experience, but definitely good for us in the grand scheme of things when we look back to those days.
Here’s a thought; how about giving up your smartphone or social media for Lent? Could you survive 40 days and 40 nights? If you read some of the US journals, quitting smartphones has become the new quitting smoking. Is it fair to compare smoking to smartphones? Do smartphones really cause harm?
Many mental health professionals and campaigners are becoming increasingly concerned about device addiction, as it is damaging peoples’ mental health. After the excesses of the Christmas season and while some of us have completed a Dry January, in some parts of Silicon Valley they have Tech Dry January, trying to reduce dependence on cellular communications.
Considering these thoughts, do you think going cold turkey on technology would be very problematic for you over long periods of time?
Back in the valley, people are turning off notifications that buzz and make noise to capture their attention. Some have even banned smartphones from the bedroom and in order to do so, have changed the colours on their smartphone screens to a nasty shade of grey.
Sure, there are sometimes funny pictures or tweets, but most of what we are seeing or doing on social media is total nonsense. Why do we spend so much of our time looking at Instagram stories of people (who, most of the time, we aren’t really friends with anyways) having lunch? Why do we need to see a boomerang of John from down the road drinking a cup of tea? Why do we need a long, inaudible Snapchat story from someone at a concert?
According to a US survey, the average American spends more than 4 hours per day on a mobile phone. Here in Ireland and the UK that statistic is easily replicated. As with seeking a work-life balance, how about trying to find a tech-life balance? Will we see the day that, as with the smoking ban, no smartphones allowed in pubs and restaurants?
Some commentators have boldly come out to say that the vast majority of our social media lives are pointless, and not even all that much fun. Many studies have shown that it can be very damaging to our mental health to be too engaged in social media, where we receive a manufactured and distorted view of the world.
So, instead of giving up the sweeties or alcohol for Lent, let’s just take a well-needed break from social media and having our phones glued to our hands.
We might even enjoy it, especially we can now eat as much chocolate as we like.