Hello, my name is Andy, and am I addicted to my phone. Seriously. If there was a support group for people who can’t be further than two feet from their phone at all times, I’d be in that number (along with half of my coworkers!). I would chalk my serious cell phone dependency up to the fact that I work in the world of social media management, but I know plenty of people who don’t work in the field who are just as bad about being on their phones at all times.
My family and friends often excuse my behavior, mostly because whenever someone gives me a hard time I simply say “I’m working” – and most of the time, I am, but I’ll say it even if I’m not (sorry guys!). But, the truth of the matter is, I am so addicted to my cell phone and the goings-on of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more that I sometimes forget about the goings-on happening in real life. In front of me. Sadly, it took more time than I would care to admit to realize that maybe I should put down the phone and live in the moment. And, what’s more, there are many other people out there who still haven’t figured that out.
So, from one cell phone addict to another, here are the 13 places you absolutely need to put down the phone and enjoy the moment.
Places You Should Stop Using Your Cell Phone
#1: The bedroom.
This seems like a no brainer – it’s your bedroom. It should be a space you feel relaxed, calm and at peace in. Believe it or not, using your cell phone in the bedroom can significantly impact your sleep patterns causing people to feel more tired and a Swedish study discovered sleeping with your phone too close can cause headaches. Despite this, 50% of people sleep with their phone and 80% check their phone first thing in the morning. What’s more, 15% of Americans admit to checking their phone during sex. Seriously? Put the phone down and enjoy whatever it is you do in your bedroom without downloading an app first.
#2: The gym.
58% of Americans would rather give up exercise for a week than their cell phone. Working out is a great way to release energy and clear your mind and it should be a time for you to zone-out and let go of anything looming over you from the day. Your cell phone doesn’t provide that kind of escape for you. When I work out, be it at a gym or on a volleyball court, I try to leave my phone in my bag or, even better, my car. Checking your phone during gym time can interrupt your workout and be distracting. The only acceptable use for a cell phone at the gym is if you’re listening to music.
#3: The dinner table.
This is easily the place that I most often get into trouble. I want to share my amazing meals with the world via the #FoodPorn hashtag on Instagram. But, as we all know, when you’re at dinner with a group of people or even just one other person, pulling the phone out to snap a picture (or check a score, your email, whatever) is incredibly rude. My father always said to me, ‘unless it is the mayor of New Orleans calling you, put your phone away’ – and, I am inclined to agree. If you must take your phone out to snap a pic of the amazing creme brulee, fine. But take the picture and post it to Instagram after the meal.
#4: Weddings and Funerals.
While it is generally accepted to share photos from a wedding on some form of social network, it is frowned upon to snap 1,000 photos during the ceremony. As The Knot puts it in their social media wedding etiquette, posting occasionally is okay, but the couple invited you to celebrate their day, not sit there on your phone. And, what’s worse, is the idea of doing the same thing during a Funeral. Did you know that How to Integrate Social Media into a Funeral is an actual post online? I can’t decide if it’s real or a spoof, but no doubt someone out there is going to read it and do it. Let’s all just agree that weddings, funerals, births and any other major family milestone should, at the very least, be lived in real life and talked about later on social media?
#5: A ceremony.
Attending some form of professional awards ceremony? It’s great that you want to brag about yourself, your coworkers or your friends – but don’t forget to actually enjoy the ceremony. I mean, how embarrassing would it be if your name got called and you were so into your phone that you didn’t realize what was happening. I mean, I’ve never seen that happen before…
#6: The bathroom.
Your phone is one of the dirtiest things you touch all day. It’s home to germs you’d only expect to find in a bathroom. In fact, 16% of cell phones have fecal matter on them. Wondering why? (Do you really need an answer?) A bathroom should be, like your bedroom, a place you go to do what you need to do and get out. There’s no reason you need to be live tweeting your shower or flipping through Pinterest while doing your business.
This is my biggest cell phone flaw. I cannot help myself. I like to look at Instagram while I am at red lights. And sometimes when I am actually moving. It is stupid and it’s not safe, period. Put your phone in your purse or glove compartment but keep your hands off of it. Plus, in many states you can actually get pulled over and ticketed for this.
#8: Concerts and shows.
Another “I’m guilty” moment for me. I am the worst about snapping a million photos during a live show and feeling the need to post it right then and there! If you must share how amazing your life is while you’re front row at a Willie Nelson concert or if you happen to catch a special version of Jump On It by LL Cool J, take your picture, post it and then put the phone away. Otherwise, you’ll miss out on the concert you paid money to see.
#9: The board room.
It is incredibly rude to be sitting in a meeting with anyone, let alone your boss or board, and be on your phone. I once checked instagram during a meeting that I was kind of bored in and was asked a question that I could not answer because I wasn’t paying any attention. FAIL. Despite the known distraction checking your phone causes, 54% of Americans check their phones in meetings and 49% check their phone during business lunches. There is absolutely no reason for you to be on your phone, unless it is an emergency, during any kind of professional meeting.
#10: On vacation.
Planning and taking vacation is something that everyone deserves to live a balanced life. If you’re on vacation, be on vacation. Don’t spend your time checking in with your office or on Facebook or what’s going on at home. It’s absolutely fine to share some of your experiences on social media and certainly OK to check in from time to time, but don’t waste your vacation worrying about what you’re missing out on at home. The first time I went out of the country without a mobile phone was the first time I believe I truly experienced “vacation” – it was magical.
#11: With your children.
35% of people say that they use their phone while playing with their kids. Multi-tasking is definitely something all parents have to do, but checking up on your Foursquare competition when your baby takes his or her first steps isn’t going to qualify you for parent of the year. Do what you need to do on your phone and then enjoy spending time with your family. One day your kids won’t want to hang out with you and you can play on your phone then.
#12: At a party.
I am always playing the role of party photographer when I am out with friends and, while it’s great to have the photo evidence of whatever shenanigans we got into the night before, it would be better if I spent more time making memories that we could reminisce on for years to come. There is no reason to be on any social network for any extended period of time while you’re at any kind of party (birthday party, wedding shower, baby shower, night out – whatever!) otherwise you’re just being anti-social.
#13: In a movie theater.
I once pulled out my phone to IMDb the synopsis of the movie I was seeing so I would know how it ended (I don’t like surprises, OK?). But, I also made the woman behind me really mad with the bright screen illuminating her face. Leave your cell phone in your pocket or your purse and put it on silent, or don’t go to a movie theater.
Cell Phone Etiquette Matters
The truth of the matter is, no matter what you’re doing if you are on your phone you are only doing that task half-way. Whether it’s vacation, playing with your kids, enjoying a movie or taking a walk with your dogs – if you’re on your phone you aren’t fully enjoying or participating in life. And, if the carpe diem philosophy doesn’t work for you, then just look at this infographic on how cell phones are harming your health. I am trying to be better about this myself, so I’m not preaching, but it’s important to live life fully and in the moment. So unplug every now and then – it won’t kill you, I promise.
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