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Column: Putting up the phone for the weekend

I have an app on my phone that sends me a weekly report of how much time I spend using the electronic device that frequently feels like it is attached to my hip.

While the reports usually depress me for a few minutes, there are some weeks when I want to make the minute drive to the Jefferson River and toss my phone in. Because I have been so horrified with my time tied to the tiny screen, I have recently dedicated a few weekends to not using the phone at all.

It has certainly been rewarding, but also a bit alarming when I first reach over for my phone in the morning. I’m not quite sure why I have to check the phone right away, but on the select weekends I have put the phone up, I am lost when I’m unable to get onto social media or glance at ESPN instantly.

The first few minutes without my phone kind of feels like trying to quit smoking cold turkey, and I get a little agitated, but as the day goes by, I start to feel a lot better. I read once that many people have a “fear of missing out” (FOMO) when they don’t have a phone, and I totally understand. I kind of feel if I am not checking out my phone right away, I’m going to miss something important.

As the day progresses, I have a few moments where I reach for my phone because I want to look up who an actor is in a television show I’m watching or what the weather is going to be like, but these are things that are not that big of a deal.

Being on a drive or having a conversation without the phone is so nice. I used to enjoy so much having a few beers and talking with friends and family, but these days it’s tough because someone seems to be too preoccupied with checking something.

When I finally got back to my phone on Monday morning, I giggled about the FOMO after realizing I did not miss anything.

Along with spending way too much time on my phone, I also decided to give it up occasionally, on the weekends, for my mental health.

I have a few friends who do not have social media and have no intentions of ever doing so. I am very envious that they have not been sucked into the hate and vitriol spewed across social media daily.

I enjoy reading about the lives of my friends and family, but my news feed these days is filled with nothing but an uneasy political banter that makes me want to bash my head against a brick wall or jump in the Jefferson and see where I end up.

It is getting to the point where the bad of social media outweighs the good, and I’m not sure if that is something I want to deal with.

I remember fondly when I didn’t have to deal with people arguing about politics daily. This type of talk was usually reserved for Thanksgiving, and I could deal with it once a year. It was quality entertainment, which only got better as the whiskey continued pouring. I remember attending concerts or sporting events and not having people filming everything. That is something I’d like to see a lot more of. I like seeing people post about vacations or events, but nobody will watch a video from row 50 of a concert. There needs to be a lot more of living in the moment.

At some point, I’d like to make sure I have the phone numbers of everyone I’d like to connect with and delete social media. My biggest issue with this now is work, one avenue where social media comes in handy. I get a lot of information about upcoming events, what’s going on in the schools, and many ideas for stories. Maybe I could just utilize the Voice social media for these things and check it when I’m on my laptop.

I know there are also moments when I need to check things for work, like scores from a basketball game, but I’d really like to limit it to under an hour a day.

Perhaps I can find a happy medium, and I won’t have to put up the phone on the weekend.