John Durrant: Why you should throw your smartphone in a bucket of water

John Durrant
John Durrant

I’m back from a week’s holiday and it feels good because I’ve just had the longest sustained period without a smartphone in my hand in years so I wanted to share with you why you should throw your smartphone in a bucket of water.

More than a week without my iPhone in my hand really opened my eyes to just how hooked most of us are on social media and how insanely immersed we become in our businesses.

Of course, that’s not a bad thing at all – we have to be committed to our work if we want to achieve what we’ve focused on but I didn’t realise just how much time I spent caught up in work and emails and messages and posting and tweeting and scheduling and photos and videos and calls and video calls and… you get the idea.

Last week’s holiday – spent in the stunning Argyllshire countryside in rural Scotland with my wife and two sons – without my phone constantly beeping away was undoubtedly the most rested my mind has felt in years.

Okay, so maybe throwing your smartphone in a bucket of water is a bit extreme (I borrowed that line from something my dad always used to say to me when I would be playing Snake on an old Nokia as a teenager) but I’d strongly recommend leaving your phone at home for your next holiday.

I noticed that I went through a few phases during my voluntary smartphone ban, not unlike the five stages of grief. First there was denial. I was in denial that I wasn’t addicted to using my iPhone so I told myself that it would be easy without it for a week.

Then there was the anger. Actually, that might have just been down to being in a tent in the pouring rain with two hyperactive children.

Next came the bargaining; If only I had brought my phone I could’ve just looked at it now and then.

Then the depression hit and I felt completely helpless without it.

Finally, mercifully, was the acceptance.

Okay, so I’m being melodramatic. But there certainly was a genuine feeling of anxiety after a couple of days without it when it occurred to me whilst making breakfast on a camping stove in the rain in the middle of Glendaruel that I didn’t know anything at all about news and current affairs from the last 48 hours.

That made me genuinely anxious. For all I knew, there could’ve been an asteroid heading for Earth with certain human extinction the outcome or my beloved Celtic FC might just have signed Lionel Messi and I would have absolutely no idea about it (admittedly the first possibility would be more likely).

I’ve grown so used to being constantly updated in real-time with all the information I could ever want (and a lot I don’t want) that the sudden halt of this flow was a genuine shock to the system.

But then, probably around day three, something magical happened. I stopped caring. And it was blissful, and I mean that in its truest sense. It was a feeling of perfect happiness with my wife and boys and no smartphone.

For the first time in years, decades even, no one was able to sell to me. No one was able to shout headlines at me and it was magnificent.

Why is a content marketing agency owner saying this, you might ask?

Well, because I think that it’s important for all of us to stop and have a look at what’s going on around us instead of what’s happening on a 4.7-inch screen all the time.

When we got back from our break, we took our oldest son to his weekly karate and I was enjoying being without my phone so much that I continued my self-imposed ban.

I was struck by just how many parents had their heads buried in their phones as their kids did something great on the mats. It was quite sad actually.

I still truly believe that we should all embrace technology and social media and all the benefits that content can provide to individuals and companies alike. But I also believe that eating bacon rolls on a soggy campside in wild Scotland at 6am on a Sunday morning with your family should be embraced too. Without a smartphone.

John Durrant is the CEO of Juggling Swords – an Edinburgh content marketing agency.