‘I quit my smartphone for 2019’
The age of the smartphone is in full swing, and our collective brain function has been declared its first casualty.
Smartphones are so pervasive in modern society, that the idea of seeing someone without one superglued to their hand is inconceivable.
Like the early neanderthals, we shuffle through this mortal coil, backs stooped and heads bowed in homage to the almighty touchscreen.
They're with us at work and school, they travel in the car with us, they sleep with us, they're even good for morale support in the toilet.
All the while, we thumb aimlessly through endless streams of photos and tweets, double tapping on the off chance we're rewarded with some attention in return.
A "lol" here, a "haha" there, but we haven't even cracked a smile.
There's even a name for the irrational fear of being unable to use your smartphone for some reason: Nomophobia.
It's all a bit sad when you look at it like that, right?
But one woman has decided to take a step back from the smartphone age, enforcing a 365-day hiatus from her personal device.
Laura Prael, 32, is the director of a digital content marketing business on the NSW Central Coast.
A self-proclaimed smartphone addict, Laura said she would "shut-out the world around me" whenever she was using her device.
"I barely heard others talking, and I'd walk in a zigzag path, nearly colliding with other zombie phone addicts as I went," she said.
She claimed her smartphone helped her to feel safe and secure in public, especially around men.
"I also felt connected with what's happening, minute-by-minute, and could feel in control and on top of things," she said.
It was a study in the Harvard Business Review that suddenly made her realise the scary truth behind her smartphone.
The study found that simply placing your smartphone near to you can "reduce your available cognitive capacity".
Researchers examined 800 people to understand how well they could perform various tasks with and without their phones near them.
Most participants performed the worst if their phones were close to them, while others were easily able to complete the tasks when their phones were in a separate room.
According to Laura, "our smartphones are making us dumb".
"We've already banned phones in cars, but what about in every other moment the world needs us to be present in?" she said.
Laura said she has quit her smartphone for "everything apart from what its first generation was designed for: making and receiving calls and text messages".
According to Laura, the first few days of her digital detox were "super tough".
"I cheated a bit, I felt anxious that I was missing things, but when I'd check my phone, there were no notifications and I realised it was just a bad habit," she said.
"But the main purpose of my smartphone now is texting and phone calls, going right back to basics."
Rather than mindlessly scrolling through Instagram every hour of the day, Laura checks her account twice a day for "a few minutes each time".
For all other social media related content, she uses her desktop at work.
"I haven't given up social media completely, but I have limited what I do on my phone," she said.
Now on her tenth smartphone-free day, Laura says she feels like she suddenly has a lot more time on her hands.
"When I'm waiting at places, I take in the world around me more. I hear music more clearly, I see people more accurately, and I notice things around me."
"It sounds weird, but when you're on your phone, you're only semiconscious."
Laura is also planning to install a landline phone in her office to conduct all her business during the day.
"If I truly want to kick my addiction, which I really do, I'll have to turn my phone on loud and leave it in the office next door, out of arm's and sight's reach," she said.