For many of us, the thought of leaving for the day without our cell phone in tow is out of the question. It is common to feel a sense of dependency on technology, with some even experiencing a sense of panic when disconnected for a long period of time.
When NBC Special Anchor Maria Shriver noticed that she was spending less time being truly engaged while with friends or family, she realized that her relationship with her phone had become unhealthy. From that point on, Shriver began cutting back on the number of times daily that she was checking her device.
During a chat with Hoda Kotb on The Today Show, Shriver shared her experience taking a cleanse from her phone and the unexpected feeling of isolation that came along with it.
“For the first couple of days, I was actually shaking, because I was feeling like, ‘Uh oh.’ I felt more alone. I felt like I didn’t know what people were doing; I felt like nobody knew what I was doing. And did anybody care about me?” she told Kotb.
It was during this time that Shriver realized that the constant connection to social media her phone provided gave her a false sense of security. Though apps like Facebook or Instagram made her feel like she had a large support system, many of them were not true friends in her everyday life.
“I feel like I have friends on Instagram and Facebook, but they’re not my ‘flat-tire friends;’ they’re not going to come to help me in the middle of the night. They’re not going to sit and comfort me when I come home,” Shriver told Kotb. “So it’s a different world, and it’s not as important as my real world.”
It was due to Shriver’s desire to prioritize her real world that caused her to drastically cut back on her daily phone usage. She now only checks her phone three times a day at most, and never first thing in the morning.
It was something that Shriver once viewed as impossible, however, this change has enabled her to give more of her attention to being a parent and bettering herself. Her priorities have drastically shifted, along with her perception of being alone. She has come to terms with the fact that being alone does not have to be a negative thing. Though uncomfortable and foreign at first, true solitude has helped her to find peace in the quiet.