How to break up with your phone, Double Arrow Metabolism edition, Days 13 and 14

Catherine has short assignments for me from the weekend, so I'm batching them.

Day 13 is a day to set physical boundaries for my phone:

1. Establish no-phone zones

These are places where no one uses a phone, period. The idea is to remove the decision making, and to reduce conflict. If everyone knows that the kitchen table is a place they're not allowed to have a phone, then we don't need to discuss it. It's settled. 

Our dining room table and bar in the kitchen have long had this designation, so we were ahead of the game. I would like to add bedroom to this list, but my family physician wife's call schedule makes it impractical. So my phone is staying out of the bedroom, but hers stays. I can live with that. 

2. Give your phone a wake-up time

  • I'm to assign my phone a wake-up time at least an hour after I get up

Done. I actually did this a few years ago after leaving my full-time academic medicine position. I no longer needed to worry about midnight emergency calls, so I decided to make it official.

  • I'm to choose something restorative or fun to do with myself in my phone's sleep time

I'm not completely sure it counts, since Catherine uses very morning-specific examples, but I'm working my way through the Joan Didion collection We Tell Ourselves Stories in order to Live

Day 14 is the day I'm to stop "phubbing." (phone snubbing = phubbing) Lucky for me, the things Catherine has had me do so far have set me up nicely for this. No phone at the table? Hard to phub my wife and kids, then. Having notifications for texts and whatnot shut off? That's that many fewer potential phubs. I'm not sure I'm at 100% un-phubbiness, but I'm asymptotically approaching it by the day. 

Other people's phubbing of me, though: that's another story. It is becoming hard not to be the grumpy old man demanding uninterrupted eye contact from people. Catherine recommends leaving a "phone basket" by the door of my house, but that seems pretty weird. Instead, what I think I'll try is a game the next time I'm with friends, especially if we're out: first person to touch his or her phone at the table buys dinner. I think this will make it seem more like a shared activity and less like me judging others for their phone habits. 

One of the many privileges I have in life is that in many social situations I have most of the power. Often, I'm the person in the room that people want to talk to. I know that sounds conceited or self-important, but it's just the way it is. I'm there because someone is paying me to be there, and it makes face time with me valuable. So as the powerful person in the interaction, I recognize that it's easier for me to set and enforce these rules on others than it would be for them to set the rules for me. Translation: my position makes it easy for me to be kind of a jerk about these things, and it's important that I self-consciously try not to be a jerk.