For most people, the phone is the first item the reach for in the morning and the last thing they touch before bed.
In between, they clutch the phone like a toddler clutches a “security blanket.”
In any moment of idleness, we pull out our phones to catch up on what we missed since the last time we checked our phones.
This happens everywhere: waiting rooms, in line at a store, on the subway or bus, at a traffic light.
Some people even do this during face-to-face meetings and conversations.
If you engage in these behaviors, it’s worth asking yourself what you’re getting out of it. How does it serve you to constantly check your phone?
I’d like to suggest two possible reasons, and offer a counterpoint for each:
(1) It Makes You Feel Important
Our culture loves “busy.” Busy carries the illusion of importance. And nothing conveys busy as much as the person who can’t stay off his phone for an hour.
You just “have to check” that email or “fire off a quick response” so that your lunch companion knows that you’re “busy” and “successful” and clearly so important to your enterprise that you had to respond immediately or things wouldn’t function.
Instead of looking important, you come across as undisciplined and fearful.
When you choose to check your phone while you’re with someone else, you’re sending the message that what’s on your phone is more important than who is in front of you. And if what’s in front of you is your work, and not another person, you’re saying that what’s on your phone is more important than you.
If you want to feel important, pay attention to the person you’re with and make them feel important. When you make others feel important and valued, they perceive you as important.
(2) Fear of Missing Out
A new prospective client. The latest news. What someone you don’t know ate for dinner. The new meme.
Everyone is afraid of what they’ll miss if they disconnect from email or social media for an hour.
Instead of worrying about what you’ll miss if you disconnect from your devices, you might consider asking what you’re missing when you don’t disconnect.
What’s happening right in front of you that you’re missing because you’re glued to the action on the screen?
The sunsets. The people around you. The wisdom within you. Those are the things to be concerned about missing out on.