I invite the reader to take a moment to ponder how completely ingrained our phones are in almost every aspect of our lives. Now consider the fact that it’s only been about 25 years since cell phones became widely available. And those early generation phones were just that, phones. They did nothing more than allow you to make voice calls (that is, if you stood in just the right spot, didn’t move around too much during the call and the weather wasn’t too bad).
It was the mid ‘90’s when phones made the jump from a quasi-luxury item to a commodity that was accessible to most of us. Then it was several more years before cell phones went from being an affordable convenience to being an item that was all but required to be a full participant in modern society.
In the early 2000’s people started to use the term “Blackberry” to refer to something other than one of the components of a well crafted fruit cup. “The Blackberry” quickly vaulted to the forefront of the world’s consumer technology zeitgeist. It was the first successful proto-smartphone.
The last stop on “Mobile Memory Lane” was a mere 15 years ago. That’s when Apple launched the first iPhone to fully usher in the smartphone revolution.
The development of the Internet shadowed that of mobile phone technology, it’s only been since the mid 1990’s that the Internet became widely accessible. In 1994 a company called Netscape started giving away free licenses for their elegantly simple and aesthetically pleasing method of accessing the Internet. It was a graphical web browser. All of a sudden the domain that was formerly populated almost exclusively by engineers, scientists, and a small number of tech savvy early adopters became the domain of anyone who could point and click.
In terms of the social media revolution, many people certainly may have fond memories of their MySpace accounts and their first social media “friend”, Tom (iykyk). However, the killer app that got your mom on socials was Facebook. And Facebook only took its place as the “Godfather of social media” that we think of it as today around a dozen years ago. Even some of the members of Gen Z are old enough to remember a time before Facebook seemed to know more about you than you know about yourself.
Now of course, the modern smartphone is packaged up with all the traditional telephone’s voice & data communication technology as well as the Internet, an ever growing number of social networking platforms, and a seemingless endless supply of apps that allow the device to do almost anything imaginable. However, we still quaintly refer to this device as a “phone”.
In all of human history there has never been another invention that has so quickly and completely transformed the way we live in so many different ways as the way our smartphones have done. Indeed, an entire generation has now reached maturity that may not be able to fully conceive how life without a smartphone would even work.
And the many, many benefits that this technology has brought us are undeniable. We all should be grateful to the people who spent their careers working tirelessly to develop the breathtaking technological infrastructure that empowers us to access a seemingly unlimited abundance of knowledge, services, connection, and functionality in the palm of our hands.
But as you may have guessed from the title of the challenge that we are launching, I’m not here to focus on the benefits of our phones. Too many of us have become dangerously addicted to our phones. Wasting hours per day on unhealthy and unproductive online behavior. As a community we are using a device that was built to better connect us in such a way that it only reinforces and strengthens the illusion of our separation from each other and from the natural world around us.
Most of us would plead guilty to being frequent offenders of “over-using” our phones as well as using them in obsessive, unconscious, ways. At its best this behavior is a harmless, yet unproductive distraction to the stresses of life. At its worst it may be a danger to our collective mental health and goal of living in a healthy, prosperous, evolving, peaceful, and authentically connected society.
It’s easy for us to feel guilty about succumbing to this addiction (and “addiction” truly is the most accurate word to use to describe the relationship many of us have with our devices). However, it’s unfair to put the crux of the blame on the individual for the current state of affairs. Tech companies have invested billions of dollars in literally hacking our brains so that they can create sophisticated AI algorithms that feed us individually crafted content meant to keep us angry, scared, jealous, wanting, and thus constantly engaged with their platforms. Thus keeping our eyeballs on their advertisers and maximizing their profits.
This addiction to our screens has been a catalyst for an unprecedented rise in mental health challenges across all age groups and demographics. One of the biggest tragedies is that our addiction to our phone has made it even more difficult for us to be able to practice being present and engaged in “the real world” and with the environment actually around us. It’s high time to get our phone time and “real-world” time back into balance!
So what can we do to break the addiction and its mental health impact while also bringing awareness to the positive aspects of regularly unplugging? By hacking our own subconscious. By being intentional about taking back full sovereignty of our own behavior. By resetting our brains back to “factory settings”. By reconditioning ourselves in a conscious, positive way through taking part in Legendary Life’s “No Phone Challenge” (#LLnophonechallenge).
The “No Phone Challenge” is fun, positive, easy-to-participate-in, and for all-ages. We are encouraging our entire community and beyond to consider participating in this important challenge. The Legendary Life No Phone Challenge is designed to encourage and incentivize people to create a regular practice of turning their phone off and disconnecting from technology for a certain amount of time per day as well as disconnecting and not using your phone while performing certain activities which, for many people, would normally involve high utilization of their device.
In addition to being intentional about screen time and social media use (and abuse), the challenge also incorporates other research-based elements proven to contribute to better physical, emotional, and spiritual health, as well as promoting better health for our local and extended networks and communities. The challenge incorporates requirements such as daily acts of service, reconnecting in a genuine way with people in your lives that you may have lost touch with, positive morning and evening routines, implementing a daily gratitude practice, and better organize their physical, digital, and temporal worlds, among other, research-based, daily practices designed to improve and optimize mental health while serving to minimize the risks of certain types of mental health symptoms.*
One of the goals of the No Phone Challenge is to encourage people to break their subconscious addictions to their devices and regain some balance in their lives between their online time and “real world” time. Creating a conscious habit of regularly disconnecting and being “present” will serve to enhance participants’ generalized mental health while improving productivity, focus, and sleep while reducing stress, anxiety, and feelings of overwhelm, among many other benefits.
Legendary Life will provide all the free tools, technology, guidance, and support anyone could need to successfully tackle this challenge while at the same time having fun, spreading awareness about an important topic and promoting some friendly competition across communities.
The No Phone Challenge isn’t anti-phone, anti-tech, anti-corporate or anti-anything. It is pro-mental health, pro-self-optimization and actualization. Our personal devices provide many benefits when used consciously as tools to improve and augment our lives. However, they aren’t positive when you treat them as “your life”. At that point they are using you as the tool instead of vice versa. We’ve been programmed to see our phones as extensions of and integral parts of our very existence.
One of the goals of this challenge is for people to make the choice to consciously deprogram themselves. To once again see their phones, its apps, and the content it connects them to, simply as tools to enhance, educate, and connect them to the people, places, and things in the real world that they want to experience.
Our larger goal, in addition to challenging our community to take an action that will improve their productivity and personal mental health, is to bring awareness and support to the global mental health crisis that we currently face.