Why You Should Throw Your Phone In a Norweigan Fjord
Back in June my wife, daughter and I visited Lysejford in Norway for probably the most picturesque wedding we’ve ever been to. During the post ceremony games my wife accidentally launched her iPhone into the Fjord. The result? The most blissful few days we’ve had in years.
We all know the impact digital devices have on our lives these days. We are also aware that we spend too much time browsing, scrolling, liking and even clapping for our own good. Despite this many of us fail to put in place measures to mitigate the negetive impact our devices can have on our lives.
As a family, we are a no better. We said we wouldn’t let our daughter watch TV until she was at least 3. Now She’s 3, and has been hooked on Disney’s Cars for the past year. We put a special box in the kitchen drawer for our phones to live in during family time, but look inside and you’ll find no phones, just a pile of lidless and dried out Sharpies.
Severing the connection to the various forms of digital consumption is no simple task these days, and when you do achieve it all it takes is a rogue email from work, and before you know it you’re back on Facebook liking more mindless sh*t. Even the idea of getting by for a few days without a phone makes people nervy, and my wife and I will happily admit to being no different.
So there we were, watching two lovely people tie the knot on the side of one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever been to, and we’d spent most of it behind the screen snapping away like mad people. We’d catalouge the drive to the airport, flight into Stavanger, the wild goose chase to find our appartment and even the cool little toddler seat they have on busses over there.
Our iPhones were fast running out of Gigabytes by the time the ceremony was over and the Fjord-side games were in full swing. Whilst I held our two year old daughter, my wife finished her bubbly and took her place on the side of the dock, eager to prove her ball throwing skills. The game was simple, throw a small ball into a canoe. If your team end up with more balls in the Fjord than the canoe, someone in your teams goes fishing.
All was going well until the bubbly interfered with my wife’s motor function. With her best shot, she threw her ball at the canoe. It missed by miles, making a fairly weighy entrance into the nippy water. She looked down at her hands, left hand holding one small ball, right hand empty. She turned to me sheepishly. “Sh*t, I’ve just thrown my iPhone in the Fjord”.
Cue much laughter, one embarrassed wife and much chivalry from all the nice people that promptly jumped into the Fjord to try and fish the phone out, to no avail I might add.
Now, if this had happened back home, on the way to work, or in some other fashion devoid of interesting setting my wife would have no doubt been quite pis*sed off. Given the great people, beautiful setting and sheer fun we were having we both naturally couldn’t give a hoot. Sure, she’d take less photos probably, but I still had my phone and our camera, so I could still continue to forensically document the rest of our trip. The suprising thing though — is that I didn’t.
As it happens, I took hardly any photos for the remainder of the wedding day, the day after, the trip back to Stavangar or even during the extra day we had in the city. It was only when we got back that we realised that after the wedding ceremony we had a fairly limited number of photos of the rest of the trip.
Instead of our photos becoming a data dump mish-mash of our experience in Norway, we had a coherant series of photos that we could actually look back through, you know, like the old days.
It was only on returning that it dawned on me that because my wife didn’t have her phone out all the time, I’d hardly gotten mine out. We’d talked more, seen more of our surroundings and most importantly felt like we’d really made some memories. Our daughters response to parents without phones — pure joy.
When we got home, we were on a high, it had been the best family trip away we could remember for years and it was seered into our memories. We’d actually experienced it rather than just fussing over poses for selfies or trying to cram everything in a panorama.
Even long after we got back, since she accidentaly float tested her phone, my wife seemed positively happier. Now I don’t want to be one of those people that just bangs on about how other people should make changes in their lives, but the actual effect of digital detatchment was so strong for us it really made us stop to think.
Phones are addictive things, we know this and we all battle with trying to have a healthy relationship with them. What I hadn’t realised though was to the extent that they are contagious. Not only do we feel the need to whip our phone out just before bed if our spouse is doing the same, we also probably don’t feel the need to do so if our partner isn’t indulging in a quick bit of insta stalking or Facebook scrolling.
Just not having devices in our hands, pockets or at the forefront of our attention does wonders for stuff that is so easily fogotten — telling my wife she’s beautiful, or asking her how her day was. The basics.
When your head is full up of all the things modern devices have to offer, it’s so easy to push the important parts of communication, interaction and reciprocation to the back of our minds. During our trip to Norway, I really learned that it’s not enough to just put my phone in my pocket, put it on silent or even switch it off. For me I need to physically get away from it, to know it’s not near me, ready to be accessed the minute something else doesn’t need my attention.
I’ve come to love these little moments in life. Where something random happens that is at face value negative, but turns out to be a little nugget of knowledge that can positively impact your life. This isn’t the first little accident that’s proved to inspire change in our household.
We are by no means perfect, our daughter still watches TV, and we still browse our phones. The difference is now we are aware, and can make at least some effort to control it and be cogniscent of the mood our phones can have on us.
When we are experiencing amazing things, in amazing places or with amazing people this disconnetion is easy to bear. We couldn’t give a dam because life feels immersive, present and invigorating. During the rigmoral of daily life however, it is much harder. We are so eager to get back to scrolling blindly because we think we will see or experience a piece of the world that is better than our day to day existence.
I’ve come to believe that the key lies in understanding that rather than using our devices to escape our lives and dive into other peoples’, it is the device we need to detach from in order connect with the world. At least for a period of time we need to remember to be present, however dull today might feel. We need to be present so that we don’t forget how to soak up the wonders of our lives and those around us — like watching two people start their lives married together, on the side of a Norweigan Fjord.