I’ll just come out and say it, “I’m addicted to my cell phone.” I’m not proud of it, but it’s true. Like a trusted companion it is always by my side. I keep it safe with a protective cover and make sure it is properly fueled by charging it daily (usually twice daily). I always check in with it to see if it has something it needs to tell me and I’ve been known to gaze into his its screen for hours on end. Needless to say, my phone and I have a very close bond.
The thing I love about my phone is how it can turn any boring, routine chore into a good time. Waiting in line at the store? Hop on Instagram and get a laugh from the latest meme. Got a few minutes to kill at work? Check out how cute you look with the newest filter on Snapchat. Stuck in a boring conversation? Scroll through your Facebook feed to keep yourself entertained. Just don’t forget to nod and say, “Uh huh,” every now and then.
The days of having to deal with boredom are a thing of the past. Thanks to my trusty sidekick, I can go an entire day without a single minute of down time. No break in the action for me! Shit, I don’t even have to click “Watch Next Episode” when I’m bingeing a TV show. Netflix has that handled for me.
Yeah, life in the 21st century is pretty great. But, then why don’t I always feel great? Why is it that some nights I go to bed struck with a feeling of anxiety? Like I’m forgetting something. Like there’s something else I should be doing. I’ve been asking myself this question a lot lately. So, naturally I did what anyone would do when they need a tough question answered…
I Googled it.
But, as I was typing into the search bar, an idea occurred to me; maybe this is part of the problem. So, I put my phone down and just sat in silence for what felt like the first time in forever. No distractions, just me and my thoughts. And I asked myself why I felt the need to be constantly informed or entertained. Was my life so horrible that I had to escape into the magical world of my phone? Or was it actually that I was running from the silence? Those quiet moments with no distractions. Nothing to drown out your inner voice. Nothing to hold back your soul’s calling to do what you are meant to do. Sometimes the silence can be deafening.
How easy is it to push those things away? To stay so busy or unavailable that you don’t give yourself a chance to hear what your inner voice, your best self yearns for you to do. Deep down you know it’s there, calling for you to take action, but you run from it just as it draws within hearing distance. You escape into your devices, because it feels good. The dopamine spike that comes with the constant novelty and entertainment of the internet feels good. But, it’s not what nourishes your soul. It’s not what brings you fulfillment.
Now, more than ever we have lost touch with our thoughts, because we leave no space for them. We float around from task to task lacking any real intention for our actions. We are on autopilot, moving towards a destination that we didn’t even choose.
It’s time to steer your own ship. It’s time we cut out all the noise, all the bull shit. It’s time we hear the silence. Don’t be afraid of it. Feel it. Listen to what it’s telling you.
I’m not saying it will be easy. Even as I’m writing this article, my phone is pinging me with notifications and I’m white knuckling it, trying to force myself to finish writing before I pick it up. You will never escape technology and you don’t need to (how else would you read this article?!). I don’t plan on breaking things off with my phone any time soon (“I wish I knew how to quit you.”) Technology is a great thing and one of the many wonders of our daily lives. But, recognize it for what it is: artificial happiness. It will never replace the accomplishment you feel after finishing a hard workout. Or the connection you form with someone after a shared experience. Or the fulfillment that comes from keeping a promise that you made to yourself.
These are the kinds of things that your inner voice calls you to do, the things that will bring true happiness, but you’ll never hear that voice if you don’t take the time to listen. So, the next time you are struck with a quiet moment, resist the urge to fill that void. Feel the silence. Listen. What is it telling you?