Updated: Aug 28, 2019
I just went to the bathroom and took my cell phone with me. Done it before. Never thought much of it. But today, well, I just took note of it.
So, if you are thinking right now: "How sick is that?", or "Whaaaat? What could you possibly do in the bathroom that would allow you to use your cell phone at the same time?", then you are part of an innocent minority - and may stop reading this post, right now. No seriously. Stop reading. There still is hope for you.
To those of you still reading - three things:
You probably found yourself nodding in silent recognition of your own behavior when reading the first sentence of this post, right? Good. At least we are all honest about it.
Looking at the picture above, you probably noticed that the man is holding something in his hand, correct? A cell phone maybe? Well, the above mentioned "minority" of people who would never take a phone to the bathroom with them would probably have noticed the amazing view in that picture, too... ;) Just saying, while we are being honest about it...
There is also hope for you, too, of course. I am about to propose a solution to our "cell phone - bathroom dilemma". Just give me a minute. Before I talk about that, we need to confront ourselves with another inconvenient truth (Al Gore, where are you these days? Hopefully not checking your cell phone while in the bathroom!): Our excuses for our behavior - which we call our "reasons".
We are not shy to find a sensible explanation for those people (the minority - remember?!) who shake their heads in disbelief, often accompanied by a raised eyebrow when seeing us picking up our cellphones before going to the bathroom. We would say things like: "In the good ol' days, we had our newspapers and sports magazines, today we have our cell phones." Or: "Time is scarce. It's just more efficient that way", or other "good reasons" like that.
But we wanted to be honest, right? So, let's face it: Really what we are saying is that we want to be productive mentally, while being productive...well, in other ways. But of course, we are not saying THAT! Why? Simple: It does not sound so smart anymore. And because we know better: we don't use our cell phones in any productive way, while taking a dump (there, I said it)...
So let's admit it: we are taking it a bit too far these days, with our beloved devices. And we all know by now that multi-tasking is dead. It actually never lived. A myth. It's just not humanely possible to do two things at the same time. Well, to be honest, as far as the bathroom is concerned... maybe combining bodily tasks with cognitive ones could still work - but that is beside the point.
I just don't think that life really is about efficiency. Not even work life, most of the time. It is about effectiveness. Or, as I like to say:
"It is not important how many things you can squeeze into a minute, but how deeply you experience this minute."
And no: this realization did not come to me while in a bathroom. (Although showers are great places for inspiration. Want to know why? Because we still shy away from taking our cell phones into the shower with us!). No, I had this realization without a cell phone in my hand, during a moment of clarity and reflection.
The point is that we are not only owned by our devices, but that these things are numbing us down - mentally, creatively, and emotionally. We look at screens rather than into the faces of those around us. We consume, rather than create, or inspire others with our presence or words.
I am convinced that we need to detach and detox ourselves from these devices once in a while. Kind of like a fasting.
Oh, you think you could do this anytime? ...Really? Well, this is not the first time I get that response. It reminds me of what smokers often used to say: "If I really wanted to, I could quit anytime. Today, actually! No really.....It's just that I don't want to. That's it!" Sounds familiar?
So, this brings me to my proposal:
How about a small challenge? I challenge you to refrain from using any of your devises that are connected to the internet for...let's say... one hour? Sounds feasible?
To the savvy and cheeky ones out there: I am not talking about one hour between 2 and 3am while you are sound asleep. I am talking about your waking hours.
And to the sceptic ones out there, always wanting to know what's in it for them, before commit to anything: Well, you will just have to take my word for it, when I tell you that once you have gone through with it, you will recognize the value, and just might get a huge kick out of it.
Oh, there is one other thing, I almost forgot (Columbo style):
During this hour, instead of just distracting yourself with other things - like work or watching TV (does anyone still do that, these days?), you need to do this:
Nothing! Yep, you heard me. You do nada. Nichts. Not a thing.
That is, nothing intentional, at least. Do not plan anything. Do not think about something that you could do during this hour of "internet fasting".
So, that's it. That is the challenge I am putting you up to. So, go ahead. I dare you. Give it a try. And then be so kind and share your experience with others in the comment section below. Good luck!
Detachment is not about owning nothing. It is about not being owned by anything. (Ali ibn abi Talib)
About the author: Swen writes and speaks about what he calls “the authentic self” – more authenticity in lives, leadership and careers. He is a life-long learner and student of life and people. At the same time, he also enjoys being a guide and coach for people on their paths of self-reflection and self-discovery.
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