7 Steps How to Avoid Becoming a Smartphone Zombie

Girl Texting by Michele Ursino

photo: Michele Ursino

We’ve all seen them, out in the streets of Berlin, in our offices, they’re in the clubs, in all the cafes. They’ve penetrated our circle of friends, maybe we are even becoming one of them ourselves? I’m talking about one of the ugly results of the Social Media Age: Smartphone Zombies. They walk in the streets without checking the traffic, they sit silently across from each other in restaurants, whole hordes of them in the subway, and all of them constantly gazing into the screen of their smartphones as if they were staring through a magical looking glass into another dimension, one that seems to be significantly more exciting than the world that surrounds them.

How often do you use your smartphone? Is it the first thing you grad when you wake up, and the last thing you see before you fall asleep? How often do you check your new likes, your incoming Whatsapp messages or eMails? How often do you upload new photos on Facebook and Instagram? Maybe you are becoming a Smartphone Zombie yourself and you haven’t even realized it yet? Maybe no-one tells you because all your friends are already infected and this behavior has become a state of normalcy for all of you?

If you think the symptoms are recognizable than maybe it’s time you take action before it’s too late. We’ve compiled a list of 7 steps that will help you to avoid becoming a Smartphone Zombie. You can work your way through our list of steps and depending how early you begin to fail our recommendations the more serious your infection seems to be. Here are our 7 steps on how to avoid becoming a Smartphone Zombie…

1. Discipline Yourself

Ok, the first step is the most obvious, but also most difficult one because it requires something that so many of us totally lack: Self-discipline. Just try it out! Try to not use the smartphone in certain situations such as when you are in company of friends at a dinner, or when you want to enjoy your free time away from work or on vacations. You will feel temptation every second of it, but try to resist it and don’t be one of those people who spend an entire meal with friends looking more into their smartphone than actually communicating with their friend.

2. Reduce Notifications

Ok, you failed the self-discipline. Why am I not surprised… But it’s not your fault! Most of the time it’s not even you. It’s your phone itself that activly draws your attention to it by giving you notifications about everything going on in your digital life. New call, new Whatsapp message, new eMail, new Facebook tag, new like on Instagram. The list is endless. But how important is all of this? And how important is it to know it RIGHT NOW? Maybe go through your notification settings and shut some of your needy apps up (better yet: uninstall them!). You don’t really need to know who just liked one of your photos, do you?

photo: michael davis-burchat

3. Silence your Phone

Ok, your phone is now more calm after you deactivated all those pesky notifications. But you still end up getting it out more often than you should? In certain social or business situations you should put it on mute so it definitely can’t distract you from the real world. It might drive some of your friends crazy if they can’t reach you whenever they feel the need for it. But the same friends will appreciate your silent phone when you spent time with them. But make sure to call the people back, we don’t want you to alienate all your contacts.

4. Enforce Alternatives

So as it turns out it wasn’t actually the notifications or ringtones that made you spend every waking hour of your time with that addictive device in your hand because after all our efforts to turn these off you still find yourself scrolling through the Facebook and Instagram feed and checking on your incoming messages and likes. They have become your way of entertaining your brain in those blank moments when you ride the train, walk the streets or spend a boring date with someone. But what the hell did you do before smartphones connected your consciousness with the digital kraken of social media websites? You read books or magazines on the train (or even looked around you checking for potential flirts), listened to music in the streets and maybe those dates back than weren’t so dull because your friend didn’t have a smartphone either and you actually talked about something. Good news: All these mystical things of the past still exist! So pack a book, a walkman (music on the phone doesn’t count) and meet that one friend who still has a blackberry…

5. Reduce Your Smartphone Time

Ok, you are simply not a book reader, aren’t you? Well, here is another way to reduce your smartphone time without the above mentioned alternatives. There are actually a bunch of apps out there, that help you monitor and – more importantly – reduce the usage of certain other apps on your phone by simply shutting them down after a certain time of usage per day. Sounds like just the right thing to save your life because you were just about to walk into a poll right in the middle of the street while your eyes were glued to the smartphone screen. Try the app BreakFree for starters.

6. The Oldschool Phone

Here is another idea: You probably still have one of those old brick phones from back in the day. The highest form of entertainment on these things was playing snake. We’ll take that risk! Switch your smartphone out for this oldschool phone for a while to force yourself to be disconnected while still being reachable for important calls. What you might also need to pack though is a folded city map, because you sure will miss Google maps to navigate around the corner from your house.

photo: ClearFrost

7. Put Your Phone into Daycare

This is maybe the most drastic step, but if you have reached this far down in our 7 steps program it seems like there is no other way. You need to completely give up your smartphone – at least for a little while. Lock it up somewhere, give it to a friend or colleague who can answer to important calls. And than enjoy the freedom. Maybe even go on vacation, you deserve it!

Frank by Frank
on June 15th, 2015
updated on March 21st, 2016
in Stories, Travel
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