See Your Phone? Put It Away!

15 years ago, if you went to a social event and you didn’t know anyone there, you had 2 choices: you could either try to make friends or you could sit in a corner and be by yourself. Now, you have a third option: you can sit by yourself with your phone out.

Have you noticed that people seem to be beyond addicted to their phones? I went to a social event recently and even though all of us don’t see each other that often, there were a few people around the table still on their phones. There’s definitely a range of what they could have been doing. I’ve seen people sitting on their phones in a social setting and playing games, texting other people, or just surfing the internet.

I’m not saying it’s the end of the world but honestly, doesn’t it worry you just a little bit? I want my kid to learn how to talk to people. I think a lot of us developed the ability to be social because we didn’t have the phone as a crutch when we were growing up. Now it seems that it’s used as a distraction in all cases.

You see it all the time. How many of you have seen 2 people sitting at a table at a restaurant and both have their phones in their hands and neither is talking to the other? I have had people talk to me but, at the same time, have an ongoing text conversation with someone else.

What’s going to happen if you don’t look at your phone for a few hours? We used to get by without having constant access to the outside world all the time. If something wasn’t happening in the exact location we were at, we didn’t know about it. Is that so bad? Why are we so scared of missing out on what’s going on somewhere else?

Also, why is what’s going on somewhere else more important than talking to the person that is sitting across from you? Why is it more interesting? The funny thing is that we could be with that other person and we’d be sitting on the phone talking to someone entirely different. Sometimes, I don’t even feel like talking to someone who seems to be more interested in their phone/text/social media conversations than in speaking with a real, live, present person.

There was one time I had gone on a vacation with my family. I was so tired of dealing with the outside world that I decided that I wanted to live in the moment. In order to accomplish that, I decided to leave my phone in our hotel room. It was liberating to not be so attached to something. I was able to really focus on hanging out with my family.

I know we all need our phones. I have a kid. I like to be in touch when I’m not with her just in case she needs me. But I do want to be able to put my phone away when I’m with other people and don’t need to necessarily be in touch with someone that isn’t present. I want to be able to focus on the moment at hand. I want to be present and be able to socialize with the people that are right there next to me.

Can you do it? Can you put your phone away and not look at it for a few hours? Can you break the addiction?

We Are the Masters of Distraction

Yesterday, I went to a board meeting for a charity that I have been involved with and watched these amazing people in the generation above me spend their time and passion to furthering a great educational cause. These people are the examples of what I want my future to be like, especially when I retire. They are using their time on this earth to really make a difference in the world. I started thinking that they are doing a great job at getting involved and distracting themselves from what could be a really boring daily life routine otherwise. Then, it occurred to me that we, Indians, are really the masters of distraction. We have extremely busy social lives, we work abnormally hard, we do as much as we can in the short amount of time we have on earth (that is, if you don’t believe in reincarnation and that we will come back and do it all over again). We know how to fill up our day so we just go, go, go. But sometimes, this isn’t a good thing.

I wanted to talk about the other side of how we use distraction in our daily life. There are so many times that we use all of the things we do to hide the emotional side of our lives. We go to these events and hang out with just about anyone to really turn off the insight we have into our own feelings. We figure if we don’t think about it, it doesn’t exist.

A few years ago, I went through a pretty bad depression. I was lucky enough to have friends and family that made me realize that I needed help. If that had not happened, I would have either continued being depressed or used other events in my life to distract me from having to deal with it. I don’t know if that would have helped or prolonged it. I do know that I am glad that I learned how to deal with all of my issues head on.

Facing depression isn’t easy. Being Indian, we come from a culture where emotions aren’t a recognizable reason for doing something. If you think about it, we haven’t had to struggle as our parents have, we have led pretty stable lives with a lot of opportunity, we have had the choices in life to really do what we want. What reasons could we have for possibly have for depression?

Depression isn’t something that you can always control. External factors also can trigger it. If you go through several big losses in your life, I’d be surprised if you didn’t have some sort of strong emotional reaction to them. Just moving on is ideal but in my opinion, it doesn’t seem realistic.

I think it’s time for our culture to realize that emotions don’t just happen in movies. Emotions happen and sometimes, they happen a lot harder than anyone realizes. The only way to get past it is to take the first step into awareness. Only then, you can get help. I have seen people in our generation and even the generation above us be sad but not understand why. Sometimes, the lack of awareness for these types of emotions is astounding.

So, if you have experienced something like this to any extent in your life, know that it’s normal and it’s okay. We all go through it but as any “good” Indian society member would do, we just don’t talk about it. We need to get it out there and realize that this is a very real thing and the only way to deal with it is not by just distracting yourself but by acknowledging it and then, learning what to do to make it better. Your emotional well-being is important to your health and your happiness.

So why do we have such a hard time taking our emotions seriously?