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Lesson #20 in Interaction Design: Turn your phone off

Lesson #20: Turn your phone off.

David Bellona, Class of 2012

Feel that buzz in your pocket? Your smartphone is asking you to re/engage with it once more. But here’s the kicker—it’s not in your pocket. What you just felt was a phantom vibration, a sensation felt by millions (ok, thousands) of phone owners. The result of a quasi-symbiotic relationship, we feel our phones asking for our attention even when we leave them on the shelf. On the flip side of that relationship, we too depend on our phones: directions, time, documentation, news, mail, transportation, food, banking. Oh yes, calls.

Extending our abilities towards superpowers, phones can be crutches as much as they are tools. To quote author Adam Greenfield, “When we rely on technical systems to ameliorate the burdens of everyday life, we invariably allow our organic faculties to atrophy to a corresponding degree.” What do we lose in our dependence on phones? Turning your phone off is more than “taking a breather;” it’s a dare. It’s about flexing fundamental communication muscles and refining one’s instincts.

So next time you need directions or take a weekend trip, turn your phone off or gasp leave it at home. That buzz will be gone in no time.

David Bellona is a Designer at Twitter, San Francisco, CA, USA.

This post is part of an ongoing series this month.

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