This week, Facebook began requiring everyone to use the Messenger app to send messages from their phone, replacing the all-in-one Facebook app most had been using. A conversation about this with a friend really got me thinking...
The Messenger app has a proclivity to repeatedly encourage users to turn on app notifications. I get what they're doing, they want this app to be a replacement for the basic text message, a stand-alone means of instant communication. It's always on, notifying you of every little message, goading you to constantly look at your phone so you can giggle at the latest clever communiqué from a friend.
But is this really necessary? Do we need to be always on?
Consider this scenario: you're at dinner with a friend, phone in your pocket, having a great conversation, connecting with another human being. You are present and living in only that moment. But then your phone buzzes because of a new Facebook message. It immmeadiately interrupts your mindfulness. You wonder, "was the message important? Should I check my phone? When is a good time to check my phone? Do you think my friend will mind if I check my phone?" With that one little buzz, you are no longer present, you aren't really at that dinner, and the friend your dining with has no idea.
Mindfulness tells us to live in the moment, but when your notifications are always on you're always one buzz away from distraction.
Notifications are making us less mindful, so I've decided to turn notifications OFF for the month of August.
I encourage anyone who wants to find more mindfulness in their life to do the same.
I'll still get notifications for calls and texts, because those are used to communicate more immediate needs. But Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Gmail, and Twitter are all going silent. Nothing that anyone says through those mediums ever requires my immediate attention, yet for years I've allowed them to immediately interrupt me whenever I get an email or a like.
Make August your month of mobile mindfulness. Stop letting those notifications get to you whenever they want. You'll get to them when you get to them.