The blessing or curse of the smartphone notification
Once upon a time, to check whether you had any mail you had to wait for the postman to deliver it. The notification for this was the sound of the letter dropping onto the floor.
With the rise of email, next came the era when you had to go to a physical desktop computer. When logged into a particular service to check for email, a notification sound may have come through the speakers.
Now, whether it’s 1am or 5pm, mail is in your inbox a matter of seconds after being sent. And you as the recipient get a notification to let you know this through the speakers of your smartphone.
For a long time I have LOVED this instant notification. The fact that from the palm of my hand this clever tool can alert me, keep me connected and productive.
However, what is growing increasingly more important to me, is a period of silence. A time where the smartphone does not always alert me the moment I get a message. Evenings and weekends are such examples.
But it is not just about certain times, it is about the number of notifications we get. WhatsApp, personal email, work email, calendar, calls, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter… you get the picture.
Now, I know I can turn notifications off and change other settings, and I should. But bringing yourself to do so after years of being used to getting instant alerts is difficult.
It’s almost like muscle memory or an addiction. I am not alone. I am sure you are the same. You probably check your phone, for no particular reason other to see if you have missed something, even though you have not heard a notification go off.
I like to walk; but as I do having some music is nice. Problem is, I use my phone as my music player and I stream content. I might want to change track or album, I go into the music player and before I know it I am now checking my inbox. It is like a slippery slope, the very act of putting the phone in my hand or carrying it with me plays on the subconscious.
Slowly, very slowly in fact, I am training myself that my life need not revolve around my smartphone and not responding to a notification for a couple of hours is OK.
At times this can be enlightening and somewhat refreshing, at others it’s odd and unnatural as it appears to be all I have ever known.
To be less distracted by notifications and alerts, allows be to be more focused and efficient in what I am doing; enjoy more quality time with people and the world around me.
I suspect this topic is one that will be met with mixed reactions and from 2 ends of the scale.
Some will be thinking how or why could you let yourself become so inextricably attached. Others will be twitching at the mere thought of leaving the phone to one side.
I suspect there are quite a few of you in a similar position to me, where the ever increasing number of notifications sources is causing you to rethink your approach to dealing with such.
So, where do you stand? Comment with your thoughts below.