If you were asked to choose between freedom and balance, I’m sure most will go for the former. Freedom is such an enticing word. It makes you feel you can write just about anything on any of the social media platforms, say anything to your elders, make any excuse to skip or shirk work, copy the works of another and pass them as your own, make derogatory remarks on public platforms, hop from one moment of doing nothing to another with no one to check… after all, you have a free will and are free to make choices. The future be damned. Now this is where the elder sibling of freedom enters. Balance.

You’ve all heard of work-life balance that has been mentioned in every sort of management book in one way or the other. What were those people talking about. They were actually talking about injecting sanity into the maverick called freedom. This sanity is what we are as free to adopt as is the ability to run amuck and create a chaos.

The days of work-life balance are not over and will probably go on forever. But I recently came across a quote by Rachna Lather, Marketing Head- Motorola Mobility, who said, “We are living in a hyper connected age where we are losing out on real relationships due to the mindless usage of our smartphones. At Motorola, we focus on creating phones that support our life, without becoming the center of it. Through this initiative we intend to raise awareness for a better phone-life balance to change our virtual communication to real conversations by usage of smartphones in entirely new and meaningful way” Well, I told myself, here is an utterly new phenomenon called phone-life balance.

Just look around and you will see the young and old walking and talking or walking and jogging or walking and texting… and their heads are bent over their smartphones. They do this while crossing the road, as they dangle precariously from buses, while eat out in a restaurant, and even during a get-together or a party where they have a lot of friends and a lot of conversations could be happening. All this is potentially dangerous and needs an intervention.

“But I cannot do without my phone,” moaned a friend.

I told this friend, “Listen, I know that data communication takes up a lot of time. After all 74 percent of consumers are on instant messaging, 64 percent have been hijacked by the social media network, and 63 percent see the email as a savior. But would you want to keep your head down and not watch a sunset creating myriad hues in the sky? Would you not want to go to a real person and talk? Would you not want to cross a road safely? Would you not want to hold your wife and look into her eyes and kiss her gently on her forehead? Would you…”

This friend stopped me mid-sentence and sighed, “But… but I cannot exist without knowing all that is happening to my friends. And adversaries. I don’t want to be called unaware in my circle.”

Circle of friends. This is actually a circle of virtual friends and problems happen in real life. I tried to explain that if a simple thing like a head massage is what you want, no one from this virtual circle is going to step out from a smartphone screen to do that for you. You will have to call a real person… if there is one. I know we have more than 300 million smartphone users in the country and that data speeds and accessibility is constantly on the rise. I know that the penetration of smartphones now includes both urban and rural settings. And then I told this friend that a recent survey revealed that 86% Indians checked their phones repeatedly without anything changing, that 45% Indians find it easier to stay away from their families for a week than be away from their phones, that 58% Indians used their phones even while using the toilet, and that 7 out 10 Indians, get onto their phones, even before getting out of bed. “I have done all this,” I added, “but soon realized that there is more to this life than all that happens on a smartphone screen.

This smartphone obsession is getting really serious, and Shyleswari M Rao, Director – Ved Vyaas Inner Space & Dean Consultant – Indian Society of Applied Behavioural Science in India points out that “this mindless use of smartphones is leading to maladies that did not exist earlier.” There are studies that mention a rise in back pain because spinal disks are under pressure, occipital neuralgia cases are reportedly increasing, migraine is gaining ground, anxiety is getting popular, stress levels are going up, weight management is getting difficult, fitness levels are decreasing, and attention spans are suffering. Anti-social behavior is becoming a norm where this simply indicates that we are evolving into selfish beings not bothered to engage any more with pro-social leanings like helping or volunteering. Incidents of text claws and reduced eyesight and hearing are flooding medical consultants… and all this is besides all the harmful effects from radiations. If this happens to you, you might consider investing in a premium-quality mattress like the Tempurpedic LuxeAdapt Review that can help you with your back pain and give you comfortable sleep. You can also try having a chiropractic service from Illumin8 Chiropractic to ease your pain and give you relief.

Believe me, this friend got terribly scared. And it is right to find the smartphone scenario scary because this is what will initiate the first step towards a phone-life balance.

It is heartening to know that there are professionals who understand the gravity of the situation and they are getting together to promote the concept of a healthy phone-life balance before it is too late. Dominik Bosnjak writes in an article that “Motorola Mobility filed to trademark the term “Phone Life Balance” in late September (2017), with its application being submitted to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).” This could be a step that needs to be taken seriously and not for just promoting devices in a different way. We shall know the real intent of the company soon enough and every technology writer needs to follow the steps that they will take. Read https://www.criticalhit.net/technology/protect-your-tech-invention-with-the-inventhelp-patent-attorney/ for the steps on patenting a tech invention. For now, this is a step that the world needs and we need to simply realise that a phone-life balance is something that only we can create.

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Phone-life balance. Motorola

Phone-life balance. Motorola

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Arvind Passey
13 December 2017