On Monday night, I was fortunate enough to see Abdullah Ibrahim perform at The Fugard Theatre in Cape Town. What an amazing way to spend Heritage Day - listening to one of our own musical legends. I had wanted to catch his annual performance in Cape Town for quite some time but, varying circumstances led to me missing it year after year. However, with him being 83 years old, I felt increasingly determined to see him live this year, just in case he retired from performing. So the perfect tickets were purchased (five rows from the front, center) two and a half months before the show.
But, as we entered the theatre on Monday night, we were told that no photos, videos or recordings were allowed during the performance. Suddenly my mouth felt dry and my heart sank. How could I not be allowed to capture this momentous event? I thought about breaking the rules and suffering the consequences as, I have become so used to documenting everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) that not capturing something this big, seemed like torture. But, since I had waited long enough for this moment, I was not willing to risk being put out of the theatre so, I remained fully present and enjoyed the show without capturing any part of it.

However, after the show, I felt robbed.  Why was the lack of documentation or evidence, minimising what was an amazing experience? I began reflecting on whether I ever truly enjoyed living in the moment or; if I had become so accustomed to viewing everything through my phone, that I had been missing out on real life experiences. It then dawned on me that over the last year, my phone addiction had worsened to a point where I could not enjoy life without it. Glancing at it every few minutes and taking photos of even the most mundane  moments or objects... And then posting them! 🙈 I could not deny that even time spent with my son had been impacted upon as, every activity had to be paused to capture video footage or still images. And when that wasn't the case, I was only partially present as, I interacted while checking my phone updates. As a firm believer in, "everything in moderation", why was this not the same approach used in relation to my phone? That was when I realised... I have a very real problem, I am addicted to my phone. 

A well known South African retailer recently encouraged it's clients to go without their phones for a weekend and connect with friends, enjoy the outdoors etc. I remember thinking how amazing it was in theory, but how impossible it seemed in practice... How could you enjoy yourself with friends and NOT post pics or videos? Also, similar to my hate and disagreement with fad diets, a weekend without my phone seemed like a fad that would only result in me bingeing later. So, I have decided to try an alternative cure to my phone fat*, and I am going to share these three simple ideas with you and then begin putting them into practice (let's see if they work).

Less is More
Instead of being on my phone 24/7, I will check my phone at set times during the day when I am not expected to be working, interacting with others, or sleeping. I am going to decide on these times and stick to them. It may be necessary for me to set alarms at first so I know when these "browsing" windows start and end, until I am disciplined enough to not overdo it.

Since most of my phone time is spent on Instagram, surfing the web or taking pics... I am going to commit to deleting Instagram every Friday and only reinstalling it the Monday. I will also turn my 3G off for Safari and limit my photo capturing. It's not a total weekend fad, as I will still be able to receive texts, WhatsApp messages and calls for communication purposes; as well as, capture important (no food pics, promise) moments. However, this will slowly wean me off Instagram so I can eventually go without it for extended periods.

Face Time
This is one which will challenge me as, I struggle being present without documenting the moment. But, my aim is to focus on the people I am surrounded by and enjoy the moments and the memories, without trying to capture it on my phone. My memory is intact so, I am blessed to be able to remember and; I am happy and satisfied with my life so, I do not need to prove that on Instagram. I want to be a better Mother, friend, daughter, girlfriend, colleague... And this means I need to put down my phone and fully engage.

These three ideas address my personal weaknesses with regard to my phone fat problem however; I challenge anyone with similar phone practices / habits to give these a try or, create your own methods to cope and lessen your screen time. This is a serious problem for many people and it's sad to think life is passing us by as we attempt to capture it.

Please comment and share your thoughts or your own ideas... I would love to hear them.

'Phone fat' is my made up term for the symptoms which result from an addiction to or excessive use of one's mobile phone. It was derived from comparing over-eating and the weight gained with the overuse of one's phone and the bad social habits and addiction which is gained namely, 'phone fat'.

[Photo: Olia Nayda]

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