The Cellbatacle

To paraphrase the scholar Homer Simpson (with some creative liberties), “Mobile phones: the cause of, and solution to all of life’s problems.” Without a doubt, smartphones have revolutionized the way we communicate, connect and go about our day. The flipside is that it has also made work/life balance pretty much non-existent, has negatively impacted our relationships and become almost as big of a danger on the roads as drinking and driving. For these reasons, and more, I have recently began taking short cellbatacles.

If you are anything like me, when I hear that ding or feel that vibration, I have no choice but to immediately see what I received. If you’re like me, 95% of the time it’s a spam email or a text from a friend that is far from urgent. Doesn’t matter – I still take myself out of the moment to rush and see what I could be missing. This constant desire to collect and absorb information is what makes me successful as a digital strategist at Jackson Spalding, but bad at being a friend or husband. I realized that I needed to work on this not only to improve my personal life, but to help me gain greater connections with my co-workers and clients at the agency.

So what exactly is a cellbatacle? No, it’s not a ‘scared straight’ weekend in county cellblock D. It’s when I take a complete break from my phone. I slowly started to roll this out a few weeks ago by setting my phone to ‘airplane mode’ when I know I will be conversing with someone. I’ve also started leaving my phone in the kitchen when I get home. Shamefully, I must admit that I had more than a few instances of phantom pocket vibrations and some feelings of withdrawal as I wondered what crazy carry-on item TSA just posted on Instagram.

I realize the irony in me, a guy who specializes in mobile marketing, saying this, but these cellbattacles have created such a greater sense of being in the moment (my colleague talked about this last year around the topic of attention management). My hope is that this makes me more attune, aware and immersed in all aspects of my life. So many studies have shown that split attention and multitasking is actually detrimental to productivity. If you read this article and find yourself relating to any of these things, I would highly recommend you audit your consumption patterns and see if you could benefit from your own small cellbatacle. Remember, your life is what’s happening in front of you, not what’s happening on your screen.