My name is Regina Brett and I am powerless over my cell phone.

There. I admitted it. That’s the first step to getting help.

My guess is you are powerless, too.

How do you know? Try reading a book. When was the last time you finished one for the pure joy of reading without your brain stopping to get instant gratification from Instagram, Snapchat or email? 

Do you find yourself restless, irritable and discontent when you get a weak Wi-Fi signal?

Do you lose sleep from your blue cell phone light messing with your melatonin? 

Do you check your email at 3 a.m. on your way to the bathroom?

Does your neck hurt from your head hanging down after texting for hours?

Is your phone the first thing you touch in the morning and the last thing you touch before sleep?

Do you feel giddy over food photos your friends post but bored by the meal in front of you?

Do you text and drive? Email and drive? Check Facebook and drive? Yes, doing it at stop lights counts as distracted driving.

Are you guilty of “phubbing”? Phone snubbing is where you ignore the people next to you to check in with fans on Facebook.

Smartphones have become like slot machines. We get hooked on clicks and shares and likes and lose hours of precious living.

 I just finished reading “How to Break Up with Your Phone” by Catherine Price. She says the problem isn’t our phone, it’s our relationship to it. She offers a 30-day plan to release your addiction, including a digital detox where you go phone free for 24 hours.

You can download an app to track how much time you are spending on your phone, but if you need to do that, you already have the answer: Too much.

What I love about my phone is that it connects me to the people I love when I can’t be with them in person. What I hate about my phone is that it tempts me to disconnect with the people I love when they are right in front of me.

If you want to change, the author suggests the following: 

Create speed bumps to slow you down so you aren’t salivating like the dog when it hears a bell and expects an instant treat. 

Delete social media apps and check them through your phone browser. 

Turn off notifications so you don’t get one every time someone liked your food photo. Put your phone on airplane mode.

After reading the book, I put my phone out of reach while driving and I got my phone out of my bedroom. No more charging it on my nightstand. Bedrooms are for rest, relaxation and romance. If there’s an emergency call, I can hear it ring a room away, but that blue glow that resembles the eyes of White Walkers from “Game of Thrones” is gone from my bedroom. 

I also deleted a dozen apps I never used, then bundled the rest in folders so it takes one more step to get to them. Now, I don’t see them all staring at me every time I pick up my phone. 

I moved my social media apps off my front page and put them all in one folder. That added two steps: now I have to swipe to the next screen and click on a folder to get to email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. I can’t accidentally fall down the rabbit hole of social media, I actually have to choose to climb in. When I choose to, I look at the clock, note the time and decide how long I want to be gone. 

The only apps on my homepage improve my daily life, they don’t hijack it. I kept the calendar, Google maps, the weather, camera, photos, first aid, a calculator and StarTracker to remind me to look up at this vast universe we share.

The difference? I notice the people I love in a deeper way. I find myself more present, not to preserve this moment for later in a photo or a post, but to simply savor it right now.

My screensaver is still a favorite photo of me and my sacred three, Asher, Ainsley and River. Those grandkids are the joy of my life. But I added a note to the back of my phone: “Your life is what you pay attention to.”

I want it to be them, not some stranger’s cat.

Connect with her on Facebook at ReginaBrettFans. 2018 Best Columnist, AJPA Louis Rapoport Award for Excellence in Commentary.


Letters, commentaries and opinions appearing in the Cleveland Jewish News do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Cleveland Jewish Publication Company, its board, officers or staff.

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