I escaped to Rincón in search of nothing. I wanted to think about nothing, do nothing, connect with no one via instagram, and embrace the ocean. As soon as I began the two hour drive, I deleted Instagram from my phone and set sail to the land of surfers.
At first I noticed I was obsessively checking my phone despite the lack of service, nonetheless, I would find myself scrolling through old pictures. It made me wonder, why am I obsessed with having this device in my hand? Is it social anxiety? Mere habits? Am I searching for fulfillment in my phone rather than interacting with those around me? All of the above?
I began comparing how I would act in my current situation if my phone were working. I would probably be opening it every 20 minutes, disconnecting from the current conversation, then coming back 5-10 minutes later, trying to pick up the conversation where I left off. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, we do it all the time, it's considered normal behavior. However, I noticed that I let go of my collective responsibility to carry the conversation, ask insightful questions, find a way to change the vibe if it gets awkward, or tell a joke to lighten up the conversation. The culturally accepted phone obsession allows me to ignore everyone and get lost in a world that doesn't exist for microseconds, and return as if nothing happened. This doesn't contribute to the development of our emotional intelligence, quite contrary, it hinders the development of this vital skill completely.
Emotional Intelligence is our ability to recognize and regulate our emotions and those of people around us. How can we be in tune with how our environment if we're checking our phone every 20 minutes to see our instagram comments, text messages and emails? How can we genuinely interact and understand our friends and loved ones if we are lost in a virtual world half the time? Who cares if you have 2K,3K,4K followers if you are losing the capacity to listen to the single person in front of you for more than 10 minutes?
These questions raced through my mind as I watched myself slowly lose my data addiction and surrender to the beauty of the moment. For exampe, during my morning workout in Rincón, my first thought was, "this view is amazing, I should record a video". I was about to lose 20 minutes of sacred workout time under the sun, which (huge side-note: if you live in the tropics, you know 20 minutes can make the difference between a light tan and sun burnt skin AKA, the death of you) finding the perfect lighting and angles to show others how amazing my location was, rather than simply enjoying the moment. Life lesson: We burn so many more calories when we workout rather than record a video of us working out ;)
It's as if my phone were my only impediment to me immersing myself in the present moment: I danced, ran on the beach, played beach tennis, listened to music and actually paid attention to the lyrics, shared my travel experiences with new friends, heard about everyone else's and responded accordingly. I didn't just say "that's so cool" and proceed to check my phone, but rather, I would keep on exploring this persons mind and intellect. I wasn't focused on next week's events, or how I could maximize my productivity. My only focus was the now.
Phones aren't inherently bad, but I am an advocate for a once-a-month phone detox. Disconnect from the world. Focus on you, your environment, your surroundings, your loved ones. The connection is so much #deeper when we let go of technology, even if it's for a couple of hours. Just because it's socially accepted to be addicted to your phone, it doesn't mean it's psychologically sound to do so. Think about the societal, cultural and emotional implications of dedicating so much time to a screen.
If you want to continue this conversation, feel free to leave a comment below :)