The biggest habit of our generation is that we can’t do just one thing.
When was the last time you had just one tab open on your laptop? Or when you were just watching TV and not fiddling with your phone at the same time? Or just eating without watching TV? Really, multitasking is not a cool thing – we think we are getting more stuff done, but we aren’t. We would have accomplished much more by focusing on one thing at a time. By trying to multitask, we end up doing average jobs on everything. And not enjoying anything fully. Our obsession with mobile phones plays a major role in this.
This video is making its rounds on FB currently, accompanied by status messages such as “I’m guilty of this!” and “OMG! How true!” Take 2 minutes to watch it:
I didn’t have a smartphone until less than a year ago. And I chose L3 E400, a very basic smartphone.
“I like this one – it seems very dummy-friendly. And I don’t feel intimidated by it.”
The salesman looked incredulous, and exchanged sympathetic shrugs with SR, but I got the phone I wanted, and I am happy. I do only 5 things with my phone, and in this order:
- Check and send messages
- Play Bubble Shooter or Bejewelled
- Read books on Aldiko
- Make and take calls
- Listen to music
For the first couple of months after I bought the phone, I had internet on it. My phone became the second thing I would reach for as soon as I woke up (the first being my spectacle case!) I spent hours browsing, and checking Facebook and email. It started becoming an obsession, where my ears were trained to hear the beeps and rings even in the middle of a nap or over the din of a crowded restaurant. That’s when I decided to go internet-free on my mobile.
Today, I don’t have GPRS or WhatsApp. I don’t check email on the go. I have a 1.3Mp camera, so I don’t take pictures on my phone either. I prefer my hands and pockets to be free when I go out – so I rarely carry a bag or purse when I go out. Mostly, my phone lies in my car or deep inside my satchel, and I often miss calls. A good friend – exasperated with my behavior – once bemoaned, “Mobile phone ka meaning pata hai tuje? ‘Mobile’ means you can take calls wherever you are!”
“But I don’t want to take calls wherever I am!”
“To phir why did you buy a mobile phone?”
“The phone is for me to make and take calls when I want to. Not for people to reach me whenever they want to.”
We think we are carrying our world with us – but really, we are taking attention away from life. When we visit a new place or hang out with friends, we try to “save” the moment instead of “savoring” it – our entire attention is on posing and clicking – but we forget to be in the moment. We view glorious green vistas through our lens – but forget that nothing can recapture the five-dimensional experience that our senses can give. On a vacation to Sakleshpur, we did nothing one day but walk over rolling hills, marveling at the whistle of the wind in our ears and the smell of wet grass. Yes, we did take pictures – but we did “go offline” too. Now when we look at pictures from that holiday, we can also remember the sensual experience – and it makes the memories even sweeter!
In the latest season of MasterChef Australia, George Calombaris told one of the participants who was trying to put too many items on the platter, “Focus. Focus on just one thing – one thing big. One thing good.”
I believe this is a mantra we need to follow. Let’s focus on one thing – the here and now. When we commute, let’s watch people. When we travel, let’s take in the sights, and explore more. When we watch TV, let’s just watch TV. Let’s turn off our phones for at least a few hours each day and savor one thing at a time.
One thing big. One thing good.