Why My Smart Phone Made Me Dumb

“Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, look at me.”

“Hey babe, can you please put your phone down and give me the baby wipes?”

“Please do not tweet and drive with the kids in the car.”

“Put your phone up, we are at dinner.”

“Daddy, I want to be on twitter because you are on it.”

I could type about 50 more statements like this that my family has made the past few years about me and my iPhone.  Yes, this is sad & yes, it is true.

One of the best decisions I ever made was to purchase an iPhone. The genius of the iPhone is the EASE of use.  My 4 year old can operate an iPhone effectively.  Steve Jobs and Apple did a really great job of creating a super simple interface that allows you to access the world with such ease.

I love my iPhone.  It is an amazing device because I could see my bank balances, listen to music & connect with my friends on twitter within seconds.  The ability to have information & connection has been huge for starting my own organization & helping it grow to where it is.  I am thankful for such a great piece of technology.

But, in March 2010 I was at a Tony Robbins event (yes, that is a true statement) and Tony was walking us through an exercise to figure out what to give up that would make a huge difference in our families.  I immediately wrote down, “get rid of my smart phone.”

While owning a smart phone was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, it was also one of worst.

I ignored my thoughts about the iPhone and told myself, “well, I’ll just use it less.”  Well, my personality is all or nothing so I would make adjustments for a time period, but then get back into my super connected mode.

Recently, I was sitting in the movie theater with my daughter watching a children’s movie.  The movie wasn’t that great so I pulled out my phone and was tweeting and texting.  My daughter reached over to me, grabbed my arm and made me sit closer to her.  She pulled me so tight that I felt like my arm was going to go numb.  I kept my phone out and started looking at it again and she pulled my arm in such a way that made me quit using my phone.  I didn’t understand why she was doing that but then it hit me…

I am a distracted dad. 

As soon as I put my phone up, she released my arm and we watched the rest of the movie.  Darby never said a word, but she said everything she needed to say by her actions.

After this happened, I did some research.  I found out the following:

I spent 41 eight hour work days talking on my phone or texting. 

Yes, you read that right. I spent 328 hours last year either talking on my phone or texting.  That doesn’t even include tweeting and being online or apps, etc.

When I learned this stat, I was so disappointed in myself.

I was most disappointed that I spent so much time connected to the world, but disconnected from my family.  So in 2012 I’ve vowed to change this.  I did something extreme that my friends make fun of me for.

I crushed my iPhone with a hammer in my garage.  

Some people need to cut up credit cards as a physical “stake in the ground” for chaining their life financially; I needed to do the same thing for my phone to symbolize that I will not live a distracted life.  I have a few friends that I know will bet against me that I’ll not live up to staying disconnected because I’ve said things like this before. But honestly, it’s fuel to my fire to actually carry out my commitments.

I believe that anytime you want to change your life, you can’t just “quit” doing something…. You have to replace it with something better.  Here is my plan and goals for becoming less connected to the world in 2012.

1. I will not own a smart phone for 12 months

I bought the WORST flip phone you can possibly have.  It makes it really hard to text and it doesn’t connect to the internet. If I want to text I must REALLY need to text bad.

I want you guys to know that the phone isn’t the problem, I am.  The phone basically exposes my impulsive personality to text/tweet anything that comes to my mind. I’m not going to do this anymore.

2. I will not text/tweet and drive one time this year

It is sad to admit that I would put myself and my family in danger because I was texting and driving.  That is 100% wrong and I will not do it anymore.

3. I will replace the time I spent texting & talking on the phone with reading 100 books

I created a reading list HERE for what I’m reading this next year. I believe that if I will actually spend my time reading and developing myself personally, it will be more meaningful than impulsive actions.  This is basically creating discipline to grow myself.

4. I will take an 8 week sabbatical with my entire family to Costa Rica in May, June, & July

On the sabbatical, I will be 100% completely disconnected from our organizations & technology.  The point of the sabbatical is to reconnect with my family and God in a deep way.  I spent the last four years growing the organizations I started at the neglect of my personal emotional & spiritual health.

5. I will truly be there when I’m with my family & friends

I will not make anyone else feel bad for having a phone and being connected.  I’m just making a commitment that when I’m with my friends and family, I am not going to be thinking about what picture I can take or what tweet should I send.  I will be fully present when I am with the people I love the most because they DESERVE more from me.

I truly believe that my smart phone made me dumb because I have been neglecting the people I love the most! 

Just take a look around at friends & family and even people in restaurants.  People have their phones stuck to their face ALL the time.  Watch moms at the play ground or dads at the park and you will see that smart phones are sucking everyone into being more connected with the world and disconnected with the right-now.

I don’t think owning a smart phone is wrong and I wish I could do it with moderation.  Do not feel like I think this is what you or anyone else needs to do.  This is just a PERSONAL journey for me to connect better with the people I love the most.  I value my family, friends and team and they will know it this year more than 2011.  I KNOW I’m the issue, but I will not remain the issue.