Smartphone Doesn’t Make You Smart
Let it be a different kind of post today. Conversation with my friend who recently visited me.
” I tried to call you yesterday at 9.30 PM..” he said.
“I used to switch off my mobile phone after 9 PM in most of the days,” I said.
“What about your other phone numbers?”
“I have one number exclusively for my WhatsApp broadcast list to send messages to my readers. I switch it on only when I get time, mostly 2-3 times a week. I have another number that is exclusively for professional and job-related things which is open only during my work time. But, all phone numbers will be switched off by 9 PM….”
“If there is a very urgent or emergency call?”
“I don’t see any immediate things that I can do in the night… I had lived without a phone for 21 years. Anything can wait till the next day morning. If it is not, then it must be something I can do nothing about it.”
“Oh, what time you get up in the morning…”
“Around 4 AM…”
“Oh, from then you would be busy on the phone…”
“Actually No. I switch it on around 6-7 AM. I use my phone only for a few things. I don’t keep it with me always. Sometimes it will be with my wife. I don’t call anyone until and unless it is extremely urgent. No social calls or ‘how are you’ calls. I feel it is a wastage of resources and time for mankind. Why should we waste our resources just for fun or ego satisfaction?”
“Okay, so you use very rarely?”
“Not like that. My usage depends upon the need – I may change the pattern tomorrow. Whenever I am free, I take the call. If I am doing something else, I won’t rush and take the call. I won’t attend any calls when I eat, drive, work, walk or when in the restroom or while in the temple.”
“But, you talk to a lot of people, that I know – you do counseling. Many people told me that they got solace after talking to you. So you talk for long, right?…”
“Yes, I believe Madhava Seva is sharing my experience/inputs in life and a part of my time with those who need some mental support. Yes, I do talk to readers or people – you can’t call it counseling and all. It’s just caring and sharing in which I become instrumental to provide support or soothe or console them.”
“Yes, that means you also use the phone for a long time, right?”
“I spent one or two hours a day for those who genuinely want to talk to me. But then, I use my landline and talk only after fixing a mutually convenient time. I don’t use a mobile phone for a longer time. If someone sends me a message expressing his/her wish to talk to me, I would require them to send a small self-intro in WhatsApp or SMS as the first step. After fixing up a time I provide them with my landline number on condition of one-time use….” I said.
“You’re very strange. Though you are a globetrotter, you’re old-fashioned Udayji. In my case, all family members – even my ten-year-old son – use mobile phones 24/7.”
“Ok… That’s your lifestyle. I don’t have any comments.”
“I keep my both phones on for 24 hours. I use almost all the apps on the phone. I send and receive hundreds of forwards a day. I cannot live without the phone for a single moment. My son is very smart in mobile games,” he said.
“Hmmm.. People have become prisoners of their phones. That’s why they are called ‘cell’ phones!”
“Oh, you are teasing me?”
“No – just telling a general observation. The phone has become the adult’s transitional object, replacing the kid’s teddy bear for comfort and a sense of belonging, right? ok, do you get proper sleep?”
“No – how do you know that?”
“Are you feeling depressed or anxious?”
“Yes, how did you find it? Sometimes I get palpitation, I can hear my heartbeats… Sometimes, in the mid-night, I get panicky attacks…But how did you know?”
“Elementary ji, elementary. This is the second stage of phone addiction,” I said and directed him to some studies which explain the fact that the excessive use of mobile phones is bad for your psychological and physical health and how do mobile phones influence our nervous system.
“Oh, so all my problems are related to phone usage? Does it cause radiation too?”
“Not necessarily. You can get problems from other sources too. Also, you get radiation from all other sources – even from an electric light. There can be many other reasons for your problems. But try to rule out the possibility form the phone first…”
“How to overcome phone addiction? Can I follow the things that you do?”
“Don’t ever follow me. I do things based on my requirement, job, situation, and character. I have been a journalist from the age of 21, so, professionally the phone is an integral part of mine. Still, I use it sparingly. That’s my attitude – not necessarily good for others. You should handle it based on your situation and profession. You are a priest – how does 24/7 phone usage suit your profession ?”
He thought for a while and said: “Yes, Udayji – you’re right. I tend to check the phone for WhatsApp and messages even during the rituals. Once a house-owner got angry with me while using the phone during Ganapathi Homam. Yes, I think I have to break the habit.”
“Habits are tough to break,” I said.
“Udayji, you have stopped excessive usage of cellphones, despite your profession and lifestyle call for it…”
“Oh, it was not intentional. It happened so even without my awareness, maybe it is a blessing in disguise. Having said that, I love all modern electronic gadgets. But I use it sparingly, only when there is no other go. I have never played any mobile games – I am allergic to that.”
“Hmm, I should follow what you do…”
“Ji, those are my characteristics. You are a different person. How can you be me?”
“So what I can do?”
“You find out for yourself. If you have decided not to depend upon the phone for everything, prepare a time table and schedule for phone usage. Keep it switched off when not in need. Usage should be strictly need-based, not to kill time. Time is the very most precious thing in the universe. Don’t waste your time on the phone – you can do many other things for yourself and others…” I said.
“I will work it out. But my son is an expert in mobile. He always wants it…”
” I am sorry for your son…”
“At the age of ten, he is using a smartphone to play games – most probably shooting games…”
“Yes, how do you know that?”
“Again, elementary…” I laughed, “Ji, I am not a person to predict how he will be at the age of 20 if he continues to use the phone like this…But let me caution you. Never allow your children to use a phone. It is bad…really bad. Please do some research on how do mobile games affect children’s mind, eye, brain, and body…Do it for yourself…”
“So, you are against smartphones?”
“Not at all. It should have just been an object for communication, connections, and entertainment. But today, we may require a regulatory warning on the handset: “Excessive usage is injurious to your and social health”. ( http://udaypai.in/ )