Things are for us; we are not for things

It’s so sad to see that nowadays we care more about making sure the smartphones and wearables we use get required attention and care instead of just being happy that we achieved our true goal for which those devices are designed in the first place.

A few days ago a friend of mine shared a below update –

Instead of congratulating him for 2.5 hours of exercise and burning roughly 350 calories, one of his colleagues asked if he had Fitbit on and did he capture those steps?

Who’s controlling who?

Somewhere in this age of smartphones and wearables, we forgot that these devices and things around us are designed for us and not the other way around.

Shouldn’t it be perfectly fine if we forgot our phone at home for a day? Why do we get restless about it?

Shouldn’t it be okay if our Fitbit is not charged right when we really wanted to go for a run? Why do we cancel our exercise plans just because we can’t capture those steps?

We get stressed if our phones are not charged before we head out. We get restless if we don’t get any new notification from our favorite apps in the span of 5 minutes. We feel frustrated if we can’t capture our 30-minutes run in Fitbit.

But we don’t need to.

Our addiction to smartphones & wearables

I don’t think there is any doubt in our mind that we are addicted to these smartphones and wearables. When you think of the last time you were in the same position, it may be just a few minutes ago. From catching up with friends over the dinner table to watching our kids play in the park, we miss out life’s simple joys when our attention is turned to these little devices that we carry everywhere. We pretend to be still paying attention, but the truth is we can’t really multitask the way we think we do.

I remember a short film titled “I Forgot My Phone — Video” suggests just that. That video has already been viewed nearly 50 million times, which suggests that it hit the cord of many people’s current situations.

While the video is supposed to be a lighthearted take on our smartphone-obsessed culture, it opens our eyes about our smartphone addiction and what we need to do about it.

We can do something about it

Instead of succumbing ourselves into this sensory overload, if we unplug ourselves for several brief moments during the day and looked up, we would experience a whole new world exists beyond that little screen. Specially wearables invading our lives from fitness to glasses to watches, I questioned are they just a fad or a real necessity. I believe it’s a fad — and that’s my opinion, but I also read stories about many people who found it to be life-changing.

For me, Fitbit was valuable in the early days to learn my initial benchmarks. After initial few months of its usage, I learned on average how many steps I walk in a typical workday. How many minutes I need to run or walk to achieve my 10K steps goal for a day. But once I learned my patterns, that novelty wore off after few months. Eventually, I stopped using Fitbit and just started making sure that I exercise minimum 4 days a week. I don’t need to be accurate about how many steps or miles I ran. All I need to do is be in the ballpark. But now the benefit is, I don’t have to worry about charging it every 4–5 days, or making sure I’m always wearing it, etc. Life is slightly simpler :).

But the point is not just about Fitbit or any specific device. In general, I think we can do a better job in being mindful of giving just enough attention to these devices or things, and not at the cost of missing the joy of real life interactions and experiences.


Originally published at aditya.kothadiya.com on March 14, 2016.

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