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Downloading. Friday August 12, 2016

I went to a BBQ last weekend and consciously left my phone at home. My aim was to be less distracted, more present, and to engage wholly in interacting with my friends. That's exactly what happened. I didn't need to take 17 selfies at varying angles to find the perfect shot to post on social media to confirm to everyone what a great time I was having. I just had a great time.

When I got home, over six hours later and quite under the influence of a marvellously mixed Snowball (in summer, how very controversial!) the world had not imploded; I had not missed numerous urgent calls. In fact I'd missed none. I had one message, which was nice, but not immediately requiring attention.

So why do we feel the need to check our phones every 5 minutes? Why can't we wholeheartedly engage with whatever we're doing without this constant distraction? What do we think we are actually missing out on?

Do we really need to know what Sharon had for lunch today, or what Kevin thinks of his best friends mum (we really don't Kevin). Why are we so desperate to know if someone has liked our heavily filtered photo, or commented on our witty status? What are we craving here?

I'm not going to give an answer to any of those questions by the way, but I do welcome discussion. I think its an interesting observation of interaction and responses in a time where we are quite literally bombarded with information.

My concern, and why I decided to do something about it, is that we are spending so much of our lives focussed entirely on a screen in the palm of our hands, that we are oblivious to what is actually going on around us. I don't mean the wider world and the atrocities currently raging within it – it's sadly very hard to avoid this. I mean the day to day things. Other people, face to face exchanges, real conversations. Music, books, art. Nature, beauty, colours, smells. Walking, running, breathing in fresh air. Peace and tranquillity. All the things in fact that our Moodscope community knows all too well are inherent to our overall wellbeing.

My request to you all today then is this. Please put down your phones for an hour today. Do something that you love. Be there in the moment without distraction. Enjoy it. Switch off. Download.

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Marisa Fri, Aug 12th 2016 @ 12:11am

I love this Fiona, thank you. I think we're all pretty conscious of the craziness that modern technology has brought to our lives in so many ways, most of all that we're addicted to our screens and find that we live 'through' them too much... But you explained it so beautifully when you talked about relating to the world around us, and the list of precious 'real life' experiences that we miss out on by hiding our faces in our gadgets. Great post. :) I just discovered MoodScope this morning and I'm really enjoying the blog posts!

Duma Fri, Aug 12th 2016 @ 4:54am

Hi Fiona a beautiful piece of prose! Poetic, almost.

Fear of missing out (FOMA) is a pandemic.

I can't switch off my phone, due to my mother's pre-disposition for cva related problems and my dad's dodgy ticker.

But, when they are incommunicado, I take advantage.

I powerdown my phone and place it in my cold box, a homemade EMP cage, in my case a Dandy branded, stainless steel, fudge tin (does not contain cow-pie flavour!)

Cuts off even the powered down 'No Signal' level inteferometry tracking (by the 4G masts), and I am truly 'off grid'.

As a result I get POMA - peace of missing out.

Top Tip. No gomi!

Cheers, Duma.

Duma Fri, Aug 12th 2016 @ 12:52pm

Sorry that should have read "Peace of missing everything - (POME) geddit?

patricia Fri, Aug 12th 2016 @ 7:31am

Hi Fiona
How right you are, I feel heartened because being an "oldie" I am made to feel that I'm missing out by not comforming.
Do not do facebook, the Media makes one feel that everybody is doing it, if not they should be!
I'm dead againsst online banking, which my bank keeps pushing me to do, I'm fearful that one wrong touch of a key could wipe ones account out, as well as cons, cyber attacks etc.
As for selfies never even in my young days did I like my photo being taken, I have two older brothers they used to laugh at me as a small child that I didn't know how to stand (only when being photographed) it was a joke to them, me being me have never forgotten even to this day I shy away from the camera, all my pics I can only just be seen hiding in the background.
Also why is there so much "speed talk" if one asks for any advice, the reply is so fast, it's difficult to understand the children bought me a mobile phone for my birthday. I didn't grasp a word the chap said, never mind I'll ask my daughter when we get out of the shop, I turned to ask her, she said "Mum I didn't understand a word he said" thank goodness I said it's not only me.
Oh! Fione I have gone on a bit, hope you have many more phone free days. bless you

Hopeful One Fri, Aug 12th 2016 @ 7:32am

Hi Fiona- thanks for pointing out the scourge that electronic technology has become.Sometimes one has to check because one is expecting a call or a message.But most other times one does not.

But in those times when we are not waiting something else is happening in our brain.Our brain needs constant stimulation and it achieves that by what is known as the "Dopamine Gate". If it feels it is not being stimulated by whatever it is engaged in at that moment then the gate opens ,the brain releases Dopamine ,stimulation satisfied , the gate closes.So people who suffer from FOMO( see Duma) are essentially bored with what is going on with their lives at that moment and seek stimulation which the electronic gadget gives.

I suffer from I generally avoid taking or making calls unless prearranged..I listen if a message is left( its important enough) and then decide what I want to do with them. At my leisure, having settled my nerves, not the caller's.

Confucius did not say...

It takes many nails to build a crib, but only one screw to fill it.

Man who drives like hell is bound to get there.

DAVE Fri, Aug 12th 2016 @ 8:11am

It feels so good, so natural, taking control and not allowing other 'things' OR people to have that or their power over you. That is the talent we all possess, (if we will only use it, in all situations, it 'Builds Self Confidence', inner peace and happiness from within.

If you now put that determination into every facet of your life, questioning others who profess, even as professionals, to take control....of your Health, Finances, Conversations, relationships, etc etc, you'll be building a secure defence mechanism, to protect your confidence in all that you undertake.

Being 'in control'...Leading and NOT allowing yourself to be lead ! !

It's as you say gives MORE TIME, to STOP in life to 'smell the flowers'. Also allowing spiritual matters to enter your head, and view life from a more HUMAN perspective.

Great expressive blog, Fiona.


LillyPet Fri, Aug 12th 2016 @ 8:37am

So true Fiona!
It's become such a normal part of my life, I check phone, keys, wallet, glasses before I leave the house and sadly it comes out in that order, phone first! There's a moment of panic if I havent got my phone. I do have a teenage daughter who may need something ( do I need to be on call fir money and lifts 24/7? I I think not! :)).
What also worries me is the very young age that the "addiction" begins. Phones and tablets are the new pacifier for too many toddlers. Children's communication and social skills overall need to be improved and this isn't going to help!
Thanks Fiona, I'll take you up on having some mindful, screenfree time on this beautiful day in London!
Love to all LP xx

Orangeblossom Fri, Aug 12th 2016 @ 9:24am

Thanks for this blog Fiona.i enjoyed reading it & it rings true for me. My husband & son say that when my devices are on in the morning I am disconnected from them entirely, thus not living in the present moment. A very salutary reminder.

Andrew Fri, Aug 12th 2016 @ 9:44am

Hi Fiona - what a well written and extremely relevant piece. I wish I could break the habit - it is so very intrusive and as you so clearly describe, it detracts from living in and enjoying the moment...'s a nightmare..

Leah Fri, Aug 12th 2016 @ 10:57am

Thanks for your blog.
I think all technology needs to be managed.
When trains were new people were predicting that they would be the endof civilization and were terrible things!!

Sarah Fri, Aug 12th 2016 @ 7:50pm

Really!!! Where do you get this stuff from?

The Gardener Fri, Aug 12th 2016 @ 11:18am

Excellent, fiona. If only addicts could have the courage to start a movement - say half an hour phone/face book free - move on - perhaps a whole day! Start a club - two hours at someone's house/garden with a bin for phones at the entrance. A few years ago our family was being more than usually contentious - third son invited the lot for boxing day lunch - somewhat surprised they actually went - to be greeted by a notice on the gate 'hatchets to be buried here'. One of is girlfriends/partners, a particularly sensible Glaswegian was joined at the hip to phone/gadget. As we went round town she had contact with her daughter every 10 minutes - that they had bought something, had been into another shop, were having coffee. I am sure repetitive strain injury must be on the increase - whenever I look into the road someone has hand to ear. There was a saying 'that's what your right arm's for' but that was for beer, not phones. I find e-mails so much better - many people I want to contact should NOT be able to answer the phone due to more important matters - if we want actual speech we see when each other is available - especially if it means difference between expensive mobile and cheap fixed phone. Dear Leah, all technology does need to be managed, but we have yet to achieve the discipline to manage a technology which has well nigh submerged us. Lovely day here, night market should be fun, just going to get Mr G after a week respite, dead scared, that is a scenario which I cannot manage.

Andrew Fri, Aug 12th 2016 @ 12:46pm

Courage mon amie!

Anonymous Fri, Aug 12th 2016 @ 4:39pm

How refreshing! Thank you, Fiona. Too tricky to teach an old dog new tricks I fear but Mr H, who is wedded to most forms of comms. (apart from me...), will be rationed once retirement kicks in. I shall make sure broadband speed - or lack of it! - is top of my list when we look for a new house. Go well.

Jonathan Fri, Aug 12th 2016 @ 7:33pm

Sorry but couldn't read your article as I have decided to put my phone down for an hour or so - you should all try it (sorry my attempt at humour) lol.

Sarah Fri, Aug 12th 2016 @ 7:52pm

Great blog Fiona, thank you.

Sarah Fri, Aug 12th 2016 @ 7:52pm

Great blog Fiona, thank you.

Anonymous Fri, Aug 12th 2016 @ 8:09pm

My phone is my contact with my lover, half a world away. In miss him so much and we keep in contact by sharing the little things - from the first egg his parent's bantams laid, to the sunset I watch without him. He is constantly in my heart, but my phone keeps him close....

Kristen Fri, Aug 12th 2016 @ 9:06pm

What an excellent and important blog! I very rarely comment but what you've written touched me deeply. So often I become distracted by screens and I've lost touch with being right here, right now in the present moment. Tara Brach, my favorite mindfulness teacher and a Buddhist psychologist, calls it "the trance of unworthiness" when we "check out" and are not staying in awareness of each moment, always thinking of the next thing to do, always feeling like there is never enough, or I'm not enough. I rush around from one thing to the next, one screen to the next or feeling behind or left out without my phone or email. I text multiple times a day but very rarely talk on the phone anymore. It almost makes me nervous to have human conversation. I hate it and I hate that I've bought into it. I only go on FaceBook every so often, but when I do I feel left out of the loop or that my life sucks in comparison to everyone else. I always seem to lose track of time and then realize I've been perusing FaceBook for an hour or more when I meant to take a peek for only a few minutes. It is most definitely a trance, a delusional trip from reality. I was the last of my friends and family to get a smart phone and I did not know how to text with any efficiency until a year ago but now it is constant. On my planner and throughout the house now I have written "BE HERE NOW. REMEMBER WHAT YOU CHERISH. BREATHE." Slowly but surely as if my life depended on it, I will practice and remind myself. Thank you so much for reminding me again.

Leah Sat, Aug 13th 2016 @ 1:37am

Kristen, What a very honest and refreshing comment. I will look up Tara Brach. I too have experienced that 'trance of unworthiness' every time I hear about what others have done with their lives or are doing. It is such a trap. Thanks again Kristen you have given me much to think about.

Chris Sat, Aug 13th 2016 @ 11:54am

Thank you, so true and exactly the reminder I need at the moment

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