Thursday, August 6, 2015

Why I'm Ditching My Smartphone

I'm one of those people who thinks its slightly irritating when my friends aren't on Facebook. How am I supposed to get in touch with you, for Pete's sake?! And if you don't have a Smartphone, I may have wondered whether it was because you are super money conscious, or just pretentious. But now I've decided to get rid of my Smartphone, which by default, will mean that I'm connected to social media a LOT less. It's kind of sad. I adore Facebook and I really like Instagram.

I didn't make this decision to avoid drama. I decided a couple of years ago to keep my feed drama and stress free. For me this means if you are always posting about politics or social issues without compassion and love, you are likely to be unfollowed. I try not to get my news through memes and headlines. I also don't play the comparison game. It's just not my personality. I love seeing people post about their families' accomplishments and birthday love. For these reasons I will still keep up with my social media as I am able.

The real reason I've decided to ditch my Smartphone is because its a distraction. It's a timesuck. And this one is hard to admit: once in a while, I've endangered lives by using it while driving.

Just over two months ago, we moved into out to the boonies and into a camper. Going into it, we knew money would be tight and we didn't know if our Smartphones would have good coverage. We debated about getting rid of them. I was excited about the prospect. The simplicity of our new life was a huge benefit to our move. I wanted to be more present with my family, and get back to reading actual books. My phone has always been a distraction from those things. I knew that self-control was not my forte and I thought without the distraction of the Internet at my fingertips I would be able to do those things.

Ultimately, we decided to keep our phones for the time being. The fact that we would need GPS in a new place was the biggest factor. I was also nervous about being isolated in a new rural town where I didn't know anyone. I didn't want the lack of Internet access to keep me from finding connection in real life. So far, most of my new friends have come to me because of Facebook groups and events. So for the last two months, having Internet access has been a real help.

BUT...our phones don't work very well out here on this plot of land. I spend a good bit of time just trying to use the Internet on my phone instead of actually using it. Our landlady has graciously allowed us to use her wi-fi, and while its weak, it does give us Internet access on our laptop. Our phones almost never pick it up. So we do actually have Internet, and we did not expect that at all.

Life has been much slower out here. I have read more books. Joshua and I have played games together in the evening, which we haven't done since we first got married. I've read to the kids much more than I was able to during the frantic months before we moved. I've even played my guitar and written on my blog! However, my phone has continued to be at least as much of a distraction as it was before. When I'm not on it, it's often because the signal is bad. When we go places as a family, I'm busy checking for 4G signal, and if I have it, I'm busy looking things up, paying a bill, responding to messages, etc. Most of these are things I feel I NEED to do. Or just catching up on Facebook and posting pics to Instagram. But I actually DO have other options. Not having a Smartphone will allow me to be more intentional with my time by making lists of the Internet-based tasks I need to do and accomplish them in one sitting at the library. Or on our home computer if the signal happens to be strong enough.

And of course, it is totally unacceptable to be using my phone while driving. Especially with my precious children in the car. I know I am not alone in having done this. I often am unable to get my GPS signal to pick up until I am closer to town. If I'm going somewhere new, sometimes I'm trying to get my GPS going just to know where I'm going. Yes, I should pull over, but I usually don't. So this is actually a big motivating factor for me to ditch my phone.

Ultimately, for me it is about being present and enjoying my husband and children in the moment. Instead of being distracted for five minutes that turns into an hour on Facebook, maybe I will spend more time enjoying the scenery while I'm riding in the car. Really BEING there while putting my kids to bed, singing them songs or answering their questions, taking in their sweet hugs and kisses. Reading books that I've wanted to read for years. Just be still enough to hear my own thoughts, process the events of my life, and listen to the Holy Spirit speaking to me and allowed the Lord to teach me.

I know myself well enough - I will always find these things a challenge. It's part of my personality. But I certainly don't need this big temptation always at my fingertips. It's been running my life, and now I'm taking charge.

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