It’s Time to Hide My Hashtags {for SheLoves Magazine}

Where does the time go? Mostly, my smartphone steals mine. Months ago, I downloaded a simple app to put limits on the time I spend on my phone. I used it for a week, and then gave up. What I didn’t realize was that the app continued tracking my phone usage—for months. When I finally opened it again and saw the stats, I felt queasy.

I unlock my screen 100-150 times a day. On average, I spend two hours a day on my phone. That’s 14 hours a week, 56 hours a month, and 672 hours a year. That is 28 full days of life, or 40 days if you factor in sleeping 7 hours a night.

I surrender 40 days a year to my smartphone.

As an extrovert, I used to feel if I didn’t tell someone about a thought or experience I had, it was as if it never happened. Now, if it is not documented electronically, it’s as if it didn’t happen.

Some jobs—like being a writer—require us to “build a platform.” But is this a pitfall? Maybe it’s not as much of a win as it seems—like the checkout clerk who tells you, “You saved $30 today!” when you have to spend $150 if you want to “save.” What is the cost of social media and smartphone use? We forfeit time alone, time with friends and family, time to observe life, and time with God, just to gain three followers, 40 likes, and 6 comments.

What if in my frenzy to post small slips of joy, wonder or beauty, I’m actually missing them?

Sometimes I hide in the bathroom, pretending to shower, when really I’m posting on Instagram. I squander minutes checking my email, scrolling through Facebook, tapping in and out of Facebook groups, feasting on Instagram eye candy, and clicking on links listed on Twitter. I document every book read, every sweet moment with my children, every inky black tree silhouetted on a salmon sky.

I try not to make my life look too perfect, too beautiful or too interesting. I don’t take pictures of my food. Ninety-nine percent of the images on my phone never meet a stranger on the internet. I tell myself I’m not addicted. I can quit. I could not check my phone all day—if I wanted to.

But the other day I had to volunteer in my son’s class and leave my phone in the closet for two hours and I felt genuine anxiety. Like a junkie. If there were such a thing as smartphone rehab, I would check myself in immediately. I’m writing from the middle of my story, but if I’m describing you, too, then pull up a chair and let’s brainstorm treatment together…

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