Untethering – letting go of my cell phone

Untethering – letting go of my cell phone

So I gave up my cell phone yesterday. It was making me miserable, anxious and more connected and accessible than I needed to be and felt comfortable with. It may be a temporary move, it may be permanent. Only time will tell.

Remember a time when we didn’t have cell phones? A time when folks would sit at the dinner table or the coffee shop and actually engage with each other? I mean engaging intentionally and actively, not furtively glancing at tiny screens while trying to seem conversational. Yes, I remember them. And in retrospect, they were special times. #nostalgic.

Of late, I’ve been examining my attachment to my iPhone and how it was altering me in small, subtle ways. I was concerned about how being constantly connected to the device and the interwebs created a level of anxiety in me in I didn’t appreciate. I’d sleep with my phone on the bed and would not leave the house without it, even for a few minutes. And I’d feel anxious if I was not connected to a charging device when the battery ran low. I was also secretly becoming disgusted with friends and family who were losing their ability to engage and conversate because it seemed like the tiny screen in their hands held more appeal than their companions in the same room. It seems like we are more connected but less engaged. Does that make sense?

You know, it’s kinda sad to see how we’ve become as a society. Sometimes moving like zombies, heads down, eyes glued, fixated to a screen. We are driven to capture photos we’d rarely look at instead of just embracing the moment and being present in the making of the memories we capture.

A cell phone is a useful tool, but when it starts to feel like an appendage, perhaps it’s time to examine one’s relationship with the device. I’ve also been resenting the fact that anyone could interrupt my life and day with the touch of a few keys. Maybe I’m getting older or I’m turning into a hermit (they said I probably would) but these days I’m fierce about guarding my space and my energy.

So I am untethering.

Will it affect my life? I’m sure it will. Will folks be pissed off at their inability to reach me? Probably. Will it affect my business? Perhaps. Am I being impulsive and naive? Maybe. But my head and personal space is premium to me these days, above all else. I don’t need to be constantly accessible to the whim or fancy of everyone who has my contact. I don’t need to be so dependent and connected to a device either. #imgoingcoldturkey

For business, email and my landline will have to suffice. Skype and messenger are also available, too. Friends can call the landline or chat with me on my desktop’s messenger. Home visits are also welcome.

I want to be out and be in the moment. I want to engage with my environment and others in a meaningful and involved way. I don’t want the anxiety that I’ve recently been experiencing by the connectedness that comes from a device that makes me so accessible to anyone, and the need to be constantly monitoring every ping or call.

Lot’s of people do well without a cell phone. I’m not against them and I’m not pushing an agenda. I’m only sharing a decision I’ve come to. My life does not look like anyone else’s so it’s important that I find my balance and comfort in all areas. Each day I strive to be active and intentional in creating a lifestyle and groove that works for me. This step is just part of the process.

Do feel free to keep your cell phone. Your lifestyle may require it. Just don’t forget to look up and live and be in the moment 🙂

Update:

This experiment lasted about 3 weeks. It was a good way to challenge myself and I was able to make changes that allowed me to use my cell phone is a more productive and less anxiety-inducing way.

Carlana Charles is the visionary and editor-in-chief of FemmePowered. She is a womanist, writer, speaker, story midwife and facilitator of meaningful and engaging conversations. When she is not working in or on FemmePowered, she can be found resting, baking, reading or scribbling furiously in her journal whilst sipping wine or coffee, sometimes both at the same time. She is currently working on her first book and hopes to release it in September 2017.

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29 Comments

  1. November 9, 2016 / 3:52 am

    Would love to hear how you get on with this- I think all of us are trying to balance this now – good ‘rule’ we have is – is at lunch and dinner no phones at table ?

    • November 9, 2016 / 8:35 am

      I’ll do a post update in the future 🙂

  2. November 9, 2016 / 8:27 am

    You want to be human again, the virtual was controlling too much of your reality down to your emotions. How beautiful it is to be centered in the Now throughout the day. I too, have had to untether-fast-break from technology, especially my phone. Like you mentioned sleeping with your phone next to you, I did the same and the radiation from my cell phone was affecting my dream state. Lovely reminder to our zombie friends lol <3

    • November 9, 2016 / 8:35 am

      Yes! The last 2 days has been amazing.

  3. November 9, 2016 / 10:16 am

    Oh wow! It is crazy to think about how dependent we have become. But give it up, I am not sure I could. Curious to see how you do.

    • November 9, 2016 / 1:29 pm

      I’ll definitely do an update.

  4. November 9, 2016 / 11:03 am

    I admire your step! For the same reasons, I have had my phone on silent 24/7/52 for the past 4 years. I only look at it when needed, it has worked for me. But I haven’t dared getting rid of it. It does give me a feeling of security, when out and about. In case something happens and I can call help.

    • November 9, 2016 / 1:30 pm

      You know – that’s a pretty good idea, you know. Have it on silent at look at it only when I need to use it. I do admit though, there is a security that comes from having it.

  5. November 9, 2016 / 11:45 am

    I have been literally phoneless for the past 4 years. I have an iPhone and some minutes per month which go unused. I like it to take photos but it rarely has the SIM card in it. My family knows email is the only way to contact me. I have hated phones for years and couldn’t wait to ditch it completely.

    • November 9, 2016 / 1:31 pm

      I would love to train my contacts to just email me or use my landline as a last resort. I suppose it is something I’d have to drill into them.

  6. November 9, 2016 / 4:29 pm

    Bold move! Good for you. I have two teenagers, and cell phone etiquette is a regular source of disagreement. Apparently, I “just don’t get it.”. 🙂 Here’s to connecting with the people who are in the room with you!

  7. November 9, 2016 / 4:59 pm

    Oh please keep us updated on this journey. I mainly keep my phone to stay connected with family that live in other states and also for my kids school. But there are days I just leave it right where it is and go on about my day.

  8. November 9, 2016 / 7:24 pm

    So true! I have started to put my phone down a lot more often and it is very freeing. Phones are not allowed at the table while we are eating and I never take my phone to bed. Once I head up stairs, that’s it. Living in the moment is hard when you are always looking to see how other people are living in theirs.

  9. November 9, 2016 / 8:10 pm

    Wow, I completely get why youd did it. Admittedly, since getting my laptop I am more attached to that then the phone and can’t imagine life without it. Even a break is good. I declared my bedroom a no electronics zone for instance. Good luck with it!

  10. November 9, 2016 / 8:43 pm

    Cell phones are little terrorists ! Yes, I do remember the days when we didn’t have these little monsters. I think , I must have been the last unicorn to get a cell phone. And only because my car was that old , so I needed that thing to be able to call help , in case of any break downs. It was switched off all the time ! And today , my cell phone lives next to me , buuuut …it doesn’t “say a word” .It is alwys on mute , I am very hard to get hold of on my mobile. But still , it’s on …it’s there …you check on it. Enjoyed reading !

    • November 11, 2016 / 7:50 am

      I like the idea of turning it off or silencing it. It is something I will keep in mind and weigh if I am ever considering getting a phone. I will keep an emergency basic phone in my car for emergencies only. But that is where it will stay and it will remain off unless I am in am in emergency on the road and need to call.

  11. November 9, 2016 / 9:03 pm

    Im getting sweaty palms thinking about it. PLEASE post a follow up….

  12. November 10, 2016 / 12:38 pm

    I have a cell phone and I do well with it. I choose not to be a slave to it and really only use it for emergencies or if I’m waiting in line or something.

  13. November 10, 2016 / 8:36 pm

    I’ve been feeling this lately. Social media seems it’s been making me more depressed lately especially with all that’s going on in the news. I acutally turned off my notifications earlier today and I think I’m going to have a time where I keep my phone on silent. Back when I was younger, I remember when it was disrespectful to call someone’s house after a certain hour. With a cell phone, folks have access to you through FB messenger and text all hours of the day. I’ve always used the excuse that I always want someone to be able to get ahold of me, but honestly, it may be a time to evaulate how much access you give someone.

    • November 11, 2016 / 7:48 am

      You speak so much truth here. Even now I do not call people after 8pm and before 7am, unless it is my partner or immediate family. Out space and time is constantly being encroached upon. We must take steps to manage this.

  14. November 10, 2016 / 10:17 pm

    This is a great notion to be more connected with life than your phone and social media. I can’t part with my cell phone, so you have more willpower than I do in that regard, lol!

  15. November 10, 2016 / 11:05 pm

    I can’t say that I could just give it up. However I do disconnect more often and I love that. I believe in peace of mind and sanity so I totally get it.

  16. November 11, 2016 / 10:36 am

    I see your reason to detach a bit because I know many of us are borderline obsessive complusive with our cells, but I couldnt just get rid of it. I had too many incidents when my car broke down, I am somewhere I am unfamilar and got lost and couldnt figure out how to get back to where I am going without the GPS or there was a serious emergency when someone had to reach me.

    Again I get the notion of detaching but for me, I think cell phones also serves a purpose on saving lives. I do social media detoxes often though.

  17. Elle (CleverlyChanging)
    November 12, 2016 / 5:53 am

    Balance is so important. I really need to follow your lead because I realized this morning, I had a dream about instagram. I believe when you are spending too much time with something it will start to affect your subconscious.

  18. November 14, 2016 / 2:08 am

    Love this post! I totally agree cell phones can get in the way of enjoying the moment! I’ll be stepping away from my phone too!

    Jasmine 🙂
    colorubold.com

  19. November 15, 2016 / 1:09 pm

    Good for you in taking steps to protect your mental health. I certainly carry my phone everywhere but I don’t feel the urge to check it all the time and I’ve limited the amount of notifications I get. I’ve found a happy balance of connection without distraction!

  20. November 15, 2016 / 2:48 pm

    I’ve been thinking about this. My feed has been affecting my mood lately, so I am hoping that it will help with all that.

  21. March 11, 2017 / 2:25 pm

    Talk about accessible smh. I am wayyyy too accessible that it makes me get very upset when other people aren’t. I’m mad when I see other ppl especially kids too attached their self phones because I am annoyed at myself. It does cause anxiety. It does make me drop everything to run and respond to a message immediately. It feels like my lifeline because I always need to feel connected in convo of some sort no matter with who. But it has been draining, I don’t get anything done outside of it and its distracting my whole lifestyle. I try unplugging the other day and i felt so guilty that it took away from the point. I felt like I was looking for attention of some sorts. My mind was racing coming up with explanations for the ppl who might have been trying to get through to me. They so know that I’m always available smh. So, I am going to try deleting the messengers and fb. Whenever I get on the laptop I can give myself the chance to browse. Call me if you need me. With that it might be easier to talk and get something done or be able to get to the point and cut the calls short. Text goes on and on. Carlana please keep me accountable lol.

    • Carlana
      March 11, 2017 / 4:24 pm

      Feeling guilty about taking control of your time and the way you dispense energy and attention is not a good thing, darling. And you don’t need to explain or justify the need to do so. Yes, I will keep you accountable.

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