ARE YOU CONSTANTLY CHECKING YOUR PHONE?
Does it buzz with the latest BBC or Sky news when you’re in an important meeting, or flash at you when you’re at dinner or the theatre?
We know Constant Communication creates stress, but how do we stop?
When my mother was 80 she had a massive heart attack. Fortunately, she was revived by the cardiac team at her local hospital, but when I finally arrived at the hospital the consultant said to me: “We had to fight to save your mother, if this happens again what should we do?” My response was: “Is her brain affected? If not, then I suggest you allow her to make the decision.” (In fact she had a “living will”, but I didn’t mention that.) Anyway I am going off-track……..She recovered, but the attack left her with heart failure and over the ensuing years she had heart attacks every couple of months. I became constantly fearful of the phone ringing, and a voice announcing, usually in the early hours of the morning, that she’d had yet another attack. I developed migraines and wouldn’t go anywhere without a fully charged mobile phone. I slept with 2 phones on my bedside table. 12 years later, my mum passed away, after a few weeks of fast-deteriorating health. I had grieved many times over those years and though of course, I was very sad, one thing immediately changed and greatly improved my own well-being: I was no longer fearful of the ringing phone.
……But I am not telling you this story because I want you to feel sorry for me, nor is it about grief; it’s about our reliance on modern technology. Where once a racing pigeon brought news and happy and sad events were shared via “snail-mail” or a telegram, now it’s emails, What’s App, Messenger, Instagram DMs, texts and mobile phones that keep us constantly in the know 24/7. And let’s face it, that’s not all good. I’m not talking about the 7 year old fixated with a games App, or a Gen Z watching Youtube Vloggers, or Millenials constantly looking at ASOS and buying stuff they don’t need, I’m talking about me, (us) – Baby Boomers, for whom digital communication could be managing us and our lives. It’s about checking your teen or twenty-something’s What’s App when they’re late home to see what time they last checked in. (Agreed! This can of course reduce your stress.) It’s about going on holiday and looking weird as you take photos with your I-Pad, or wondering why your ‘bestie’ hasn’t responded to your Message for 3 days, or why the colleague who sits across the office hasn’t replied to your email, (and when she does, she says, “Why didn’t you Skype me?”) Oh, the dilemmas of modern life! And my pet hate: people who walk along the street talking very loudly into their phones and looking as if they are talking to themselves.
ho gets in a panic if they leave the house and forget their phone? (Confused, but not actually fearful in my case.)
Last week on the last night of my holiday, we were in a restaurant and unusually for me, I was staring at my husband and the wall behind him, instead of the vista of the entire restaurant and the possibility of watching people, but then my husband became fixated not on me, but by a couple on the table behind us. Throughout their meal, the man was playing on his phone whilst the woman sat there, clearly bored. “Obviously married a long time,” was my husband’s theory. Where once people watched television or read a paper (both dreadful habits,) whilst eating, now they play with their phones.
These days there’s so much talk about mindfulness, purpose, living a meaningful life…. I could go on …..but just maybe, the secret to improving our lives is as simple as walking on a beach or through a wood, or even exploring a city, and seeing everything through your own eyes, not filming ourselves and sharing the experience, just listening to the sounds: be it waves, birdsong or the sounds of traffic – and appreciating what you hear. Perhaps it’s about simple conversation for conversation’s sake, listening to someone else, for no reason apart from allowing them to speak, or sitting quietly and reading a proper book with real pages to turn. ……….All this sounds easy doesn’t it? But would you try it? Shall we give it a go?……….This, by the way, is a lesson to myself.
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