Beating addiction to mobile phones

Saturday February 13 2016

Who would have thought, a little over 15 years

Who would have thought, a little over 15 years ago that the mobile phone would become an indispensable part of modern life?PHOTO|FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Who would have thought, a little over 15 years ago that the mobile phone would become an indispensable part of modern life? Back then, the bulky device was nothing more than a handset that allowed you to make calls.

Today, the mobile phone, particularly if it is smart, is all things to most of us, a sort of constant companion. It allows you to talk through voice and text, take pictures and videos, connect with friends and loved ones on social media, listen to music, read books, store your photos, take notes and search the Internet.

Your smartphone is a personal assistant, storing your appointments and sending you alerts in case you have the memory of a goldfish. It is also a clock and probably your most trusted alarm. And when you go shopping, it’s a calculator and ATM in one.

Small wonder I got a panic attack recently when in my morning dash out of the house, I left my phones behind. I realised my mistake about five minutes later, and had to choose between going back for the phone or beating traffic and getting to the office two

hours earlier. I went back for the phones. Why? Because I couldn’t see myself getting through the day without them. I know, I know. This is the part where I say, “Hi. My name is Carole and I’m an addict.” And in collective empathy, you all say, ‘Hi Carole!”

You see, I’m not alone in my addiction, and if you are thinking of denying yours, remember that acceptance is the first step to recovery. To encourage you, we are in great company.

After-all President Barack Obama went through some withdrawal symptoms when he joined the White House, early in his presidency, and realised he would need to give up his beloved Blackberry. I’m not sure he gave it up either as he was seen at Nelson

Mandela’s funeral taking a selfie. Now while I don’t have the schedule of the most powerful man on the planet, I struggle to get through my day without my phone. My world seems less orderly, a sort of war zone.

My admission

However, one-on-one with the woman in the mirror, I have to admit that I have a lot more in common with the guy who takes a swig from his favourite drink to fortify him for the day than I wish to admit. How did we get here?

If it feels like I am bursting your bubble on this day of love, when you are hoping to receive or gift a mobile phone, I have to say: take the phone. Just don’t love it so much. Don’t let it take over your life, until you become miserable just because you can’t

locate it. Don’t allow it that hallowed place as the last thing you see at night, and the first thing you see in the morning. Don’t hug it tighter than you hold your child or partner.

Don’t gaze into it with affection or a warm smile. Are you rushing to recharge it while bankrupting your relationships? Are you frantically searching for a charger so it doesn’t “die” when you can’t remember the last time you recharged yourself?

Does it have a protective case, to ensure it doesn’t crack in the unfortunate event that it falls? Do you have a protective case for your life? Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post quotes Peter Thiel and Blake Masters in the book, Thrive.

She writes, “Technology is miraculous because it allows us to do more with less, ratcheting up our fundamental capabilities to a higher level.” She adds, “That’s true in many important ways. But if we let it, technology can also add a lot of noise and

distraction that get in the way of our most fundamental creative capabilities – instead of freeing us, it can consume us. What we’re beginning to recognise now is that success is not always about doing more, but also about doing better – and we do better when we’re connected to our inner wisdom, strength and intuition.”

She’s right. And while our phones can be great tool for spreading love, and especially warm Valentine’s wishes, may they remind us that we too are worthy of regular re-charging, regular attention and care. After-all, you can replace a phone. Not so with people.