A Different Take on How to Use Your Phone

Cell phones have essentially become an extension of the body in the modern world. We communicate, absorb and document -- all through this 5th limb that goes everywhere with us. And since social media took off in the mid-2000s, we also broadcast. We broadcast our curated personalities, looks, and social connections, but as our society recently discovered (science has now confirmed what many had echoed at its beginning), that despite our appearance of being extraordinarily happy through these digital platforms, that way of using technology doesn’t actually make us that happy after all. It seems that in this case, you can’t fake it until you make it.

Where does that leave us? Throw away our cell phones and never look back? That probably won’t happen. Instead, let’s acknowledge the powerful and profound capabilities your phone has and then figure out a way for it to add value to your life and encourage thoughtfulness.

COMMUNICATE

First, of course, you can talk to anyone around the world with virtually no time lag between you and that person communicating. The typical use of this for most people, however, is to call your immediate circle of friends and family. But think for a minute the many people from your lifetime that you can reach with just a quick dial? What about your best friend from high school whose Facebook posts you see regularly, but haven’t talked to in a while? Or the family friends who hosted you while you were traveling? Maybe giving them a call and catching up can rekindle a meaningful relationship for you.  

ABSORB

Then there is the vast storage of human knowledge that is at your fingertips. In fact, there is so much information on the internet that you probably don’t know where to begin. Surely you have your go-to and regularly visited sites, but when was the last time you really tapped into the power of the device in your hand? Instead of scrolling through your Instagram feed, try deep diving into a topic through a website that curates thoughtful collections of information. Curation is the key concept in making use of the overload of information on the internet. I search through Issuu.com to find independently published magazines on my favorite topics.

DOCUMENT

Phones are also used increasingly to document our everyday lives, and while many people seem to be good at in the moment documentation, there is another more premediated approach to tapping into your phone’s memory, camera, and recording abilities. If you can store documentation of memories that your brain can’t remember for forever, then naturally the question to ask yourself is—what kinds of experiences do I want to remember a couple decades from now? Your parents, for example, will look incredibly different over the next 30 years, and as you see them on a regular basis you probably won’t notice incremental changes as they age and ultimately forget what they look like now. Listen, observe, inquire and then document with your phone so you can look back with clear sight when you’re a little bit older. Your future self will thank you.