I'm not proud of it.
I'm not proud of the disturbing addiction I have to my phone. You can ask my husband (don't actually ask him), but I will straight up panic if my phone is missing/lost/water damage from being dropped in a toilet/dead. I make a million excuses for why I have to stay attached at all times. None of them are good enough. It's habit bordering on addiction, plain and simple.
I needed Manoush Zomorodi to save me.
I've listened to Manoush's podcast for quite some time (I can call her by her first name only because we follow each other on Twitter and are basically best friends. Don't tell her that.) Her podcast Note to Self is all about tech and its applications to our real life. I've listened to episodes about what to post about your kids online, about Edward Snowden leaks, etc. A lot of it has to do with responsibly consuming tech, but it's not anti-tech in any way. When she started talking about this Bored and Brilliant concept, I was really interested - and, too much of a chicken to take the plunge. Once she put it in a book, I figured I should pay attention.
Think about that. It's totally true. The guy at the grocery store thinks you're a customer. The waiter at your favorite restaurant sees you as a diner or a guest. But, those Apple guys? The online gaming industry? The cell phone giants? You're a user to them. And, they're more than happy to deliver you the product. We're all hooked. They know it. You've had a taste, now you're jonesing all the time.
It's making us dumb.
Maybe not dumb, but less creative. The concept behind this book is intensive research that shows we don't really get bored anymore. We don't "zone out." We always have our phones with us, so we always have a way to scroll, watch, play, text, engage, etc. There's literally a part of our brain that is not getting used - and, it's the part of our brain that comes up with the best ideas!
I think of it this way: when is the last time you went on a plane and you hadn't downloaded a movie and you won't pony up for the wi-fi? Maybe before you pull out your book or your headphones or fall asleep, you look out the window. Maybe you've had a revelation. That's what happens when we can't access the tech to which we're so used to having in our pocket. These are the times our brains are at their best.
This constant access to technology has hurt in other ways too. We all find it hard to read a long article or, God forbid, an actual book. We're so used to information in small, digestible pieces. Imagine being a 17-year old or even a 25-year old who has always had this technology. It's a problem with real, long-term consequences.
Yes, we have all this access to information, but it keeps us from having to think for ourselves.
SO WHAT IN THE HELL ARE WE SUPPOSED TO DO ABOUT IT?
Take the challenge. The book sets aside 5 steps to take to slowly break the addiction and free your brain for big ideas. They include things like "delete that one app that sucks your time - just for one day." They all sound really easy. But, as someone who is about to embark on this challenge, I can tell you, it won't be. But, if it helps me reduce the number of times I pick up my phone in a day and gives me an excuse to stay off Twitter and actually THINK, it's worth it.
I'm hoping to take the ideas here and the concept and make a series out of it for TV news. I think we could ALL use this kind of intervention. If you take the challenge, let me know. I think I'm going to start next week. Hold me to it. I'll let you know how I did.
Buy the book. Underline a million passages like I did. Or, if you don't have time to read, listen to the podcast or watch Manoush's TedTalk on the matter here.
Good luck bein' super brilliant.