I'm breaking up with my phone

It was over two years ago that I signed the contract to sell the business that I had been building for 12 years. I stayed on for 19 months after as part of the sale deal so after the sale, there wasn’t really that time for a “break” because I was employed by my own company. When I finished up in February, I had already started a couple of new businesses and had no desire to stop because truth be told, I love my work. 

My husband went away early this year on a surfing trip and I got to spend two weeks uninterrupted with my kids. He’s been a full time parent for the last 6 years so it’s rare that I get to be the go to person for everything and I absolutely loved it. I had forgotten just how much you laugh when you are totally uninhibited playing with children. It wasn’t like I was ever an absent parent, but those two intensive weeks and the conversations that we had together really bought home how I seemed to blink and I no longer had little boys, but little men. I had an acute feeling of knowing that I didn’t have long left to enjoy them as children and this was the only time in my life that I was going to get to be the parent of my children at this magical age. I only get one shot at this and I decided to savour it. We had the idea to go around the world for a year before we even had kids and now, it was definite, we were doing it, throwing everything away and taking off for a family gap year. We’d worked hard since we were teenagers and I felt like we deserved it, the kids deserved it and that we had the time and money to make it a reality. 

So exactly 3 months ago, we set off for our big break, our sabbatical, our adventure around the world. But I haven’t had a break. I have a confession to make. I am addicted to social media. Like, I really love it. I have ran the numbers using the apps “checky” and “freedom” and I know I check my phone 3 times higher than the average person (average around 100 times a day) and I spend around an hour a day on social media in little bursts, usually every hour. It’s an addiction and a habit and one I didn’t want to break because it helps me stay connected to my friends and gives me huge amounts of business inspiration and the latest news. I also know the business benefits personally of having a social media presence. But moderation isn’t something I’ve ever done well and I wanted to break it. I researched “Breaking social media addiction” and was amazed at what I found. I’m certainly not alone. We’re spending SO much time looking down and missing so much of what’s right in front of us. 

I spend so much time on content because there's so many avenues. Different facebook pages for different businesses, instagram, twitter, Linked In, video trainings, blog posts, there's so many places to "be" that we can really lose touch with why we do what we do and who we serve. 

 
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The secret of happiness is living in the now and following your dreams to feel fulfilled. Happiness comes when we learn to be still. These are things we all know and are reminded of all the time, and yet, so few master them. It’s been polarising through travel, how many people are recording then spending ten minutes crafting the perfect social media post. Tripods set up on the street, beautiful women twirling in ancient alleyways while the camera films in slow motion. She should just enjoy dancing. I have been taking photos of our travel and then caught myself thinking how great it would be for instagram and what caption I would use. My captions aren’t even very good! 

In all of my research, people talked about the benefits of switching iff. I wouldn’t know. I feel proud when I turn my phone off on a Sunday. I have always been on, driven by both the need to connect with other people, to promote my businesses and to earn validation and approval for both my work and my life (sad but oh so true). My wrist and thumb get sore from years of overuse of my laptop clicker and typing. I spend too much time trying to get wifi or find a charger. This is not what we wanted when we decided to go on an around the world trip. I can’t help myself but to pull out my phone whenever I’m in a line by myself, whenever I’m in a restaurant, because, if I don’t, what, I just sit there like a super awkward person looking around at my surroundings and making eye contact with strangers? 

I want to do an experiment and go off social media. Even when I thought about it and my heart raced a little with the enormity of what that meant, I knew I had to do it. It’s freaking facebook and instagram! It really shouldn’t be a big deal, and it isn’t, but my subconscious seems to disagree, I’m even sweating a little writing this. We’re about to go all around Europe and Africa, and no one but us will see it. “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" I’m about to find out. 

I have decided to go underground and uninstall all social media for 3 months. My husband laughed and said “Tina, um, what about trying 3 hours, or even 3 days?” But I want to see what the impact is. Thing is, everyone has their own amazing lives and I know when I return that no one will even notice that I wasn’t there, or really care. In my mind, my social media posting is far more important than it actually is, and it’s time I get that into perspective. What I’m doing is not the “right” thing to do. I run an online business and will continue to do so without missing a beat. I should be posting, hash tagging, promoting, building and using every opportunity, especially with great content like world travel. But, while I love my work, I want to breathe and look up and enjoy the world. I have started looking up more in the last 3 months, and I like what I see. I want more of it. 

Towards the end of my last business when the pressure was mounting, every time the phone buzzed, my heart would give a little jolt as the adrenalin surged through my veins. It was only a few days ago that I felt the familiar vibration of my phone and reached down and noticed that I no longer had a fight or flight reaction. I’m not sure when that stopped but I love that it’s gone. 

I am so curious to see what happens without months of not sharing my life and thoughts and not reading other people’s. It's a major problem that I have, and a problem that I think we have collectively as a society, how much time we spend looking at our phones when we could be looking up. How much we're messing with our nervous systems with a cocktail of cortisol and dopamine as we live our life through our devices. 

So, I’m signing off. I’ll still be running my business and having a little bit of exposure over on facebook inside our “Living the Laptop Life” group and in my member’s only group for Scale Up and Laptop Life. It will be a test to see if I can jump on in there and resist the temptation to look at anything else.

I can honestly say, I will miss you far more than you will miss me. I do love instagram and have no doubt that after this experiment, I will be posting about the experience and hash tagging the bejesus out of it! ;) But until then, I’m going to get lost with my family in this big beautiful world. 

 

 
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Tina Tower