I’m sure that everyone has experienced this. You are with friends and despite the physical proximity, mentally and emotionally, we might as well have been on different planets. Beyond constantly looking at our phones, we were all living on our phones. They have become our operative consciousness, creating a virtual reality where our brain is not present – even when the screen is off. You cannot escape the world of work emails, Instagram, text messages, etc. Our phone is now our brain, controlling our reality.
There is a real danger that the digital world and real world have morphed into one. It is hard for us to escape that digital consciousness and be present. We excited in meaningless conversations that are uninteresting and unsophisticated because our brains are still busy consuming the digital world. I think that our subconscious is under siege as well. Have you done the following? After you’ve consumed all the new content in Instagram, you click the home screen button and then on autopilot tap the Instagram button again unable to process in that moment there is nothing new to see. The result? A recent HBR story uncovered that Millennials are stressed when they’re around their phones, but also stressed by their absence.
My phone is an invaluable tool for many aspects of my life such as communication, media consumption, transportation and more. The phone is amazing at creating different worlds that allow me to sometimes escape my real life for a few minutes, which sometimes I really need.
I have tried many times to make a commitment to create separation between my real life and the digital world. I know that when I am on my phone, I will exist on my phone and appreciate the power of knowledge and convenience that it provides. When I am in real life, I will focus on being fully present and leaving my digital consciousness behind. They worlds will intersect some times, but I try to do my best to keep my digital world from distracting me from reality.
At a minimum, I will try to engage more deeply with the people around me, look up when I walk along the street and appreciate the detail that other humans have created. Otherwise, my phone is my life and I will wake up 50 years from now and the inevitable nearness of death will finally force my brain to exist in reality. I will then, finally realize that I haven’t lived at all, my phone was my brain.