• Woman uses smartphone.

    Are you a Smombie? 7 tips for handling the smartphone.

    Connected with the whole world, at all times of the day and night. But doesn’t the interpersonal contact fall by the wayside?

    Text: Rebecca Randak

The emergence of the smombies.

There is a very unflattering expression to describe people who are so powerfully distracted by gazing at their smartphone that they hardly perceive their surroundings. They are called: smombies. This portmanteau word made from “smartphone” and “zombie” was chosen as “Youth Word of the Year” by the Langenscheidt German dictionary in 2015. A phenomenon that is far from afflicting only young persons.

Woman uses smartphone.
Table group plays with smartphones.

The permanently contactable “Homo digitalis”.

In his book “Digital Burnout”, IT specialist Alexander Markowetz even talks about the emergence of a new genre of human being, one whose life takes place mainly in the digital world. The “Homo digitalis” takes care of shopping, makes new acquaintances and writes messages with a smartphone. According to some studies, even the average smartphone user checks their telephone around 180 times a day.

As if in a trance.

The smartphone has a certain addictive potential. As with a gambling machine, we hope for rewards that will distract us or make us happy for a while. If a new e-mail arrives or if we get a like for an Instagram picture, our brain rewards us with the happiness hormone dopamine. This is a feeling we want to experience as often as possible. However, in a manner similar to that of a gambling machine, this happiness is short-lived. The rush delivered by the smartphone doesn’t last long and is detrimental to person-to-person contact. That’s reason enough to switch the device off occasionally.

Smartphones on table.
  • Man uses smartphone.

This is how to handle your smartphone smartly:

1. Disable push notifications.

The phone display lighting up distracts us from what is really happening. It also suggests to you that you have to react immediately, without fail. This can produce a situation of acute stress for you. By turning off the notifications, you remove the pressure of having to constantly reach for the phone.

2. Using the phone to make phone calls.

Among the host of functions of a smartphone the most important one is sometimes neglected: simply making phone calls. Instead of typing several e-mails or text messages, why not simply make a phone call? This saves time and creates greater closeness.

3. Mobile-phone-free times and zones.

Define places where the mobile phone is taboo. A good starting point for a digital time-out is, for example, a meal with family or friends. Of course, with a so-called mobile phone tower in the middle of the table. A second step would be to declare your bedroom as a mobile-phone-free zone and “reactivate” your old alarm clock. Do you enjoy these breaks? Then why not adopt the “Technology Sabbath” every week, based on the Jewish rest period from Friday evening to Saturday evening, and turn off the mobile phone for one day?

4. Celebrate moments of mindfulness.

There are many situations in which you grasp the phone automatically: when waiting for the bus or at the supermarket check-out counter. Consciously leave the phone in your pocket at these moments and take a moment for yourself. How do you feel right now? Inhale and exhale deeply and enjoy this brief moment with yourself.

5. A new communication etiquette.

It used to be considered impolite to call someone during lunchtime and after 8 o’clock in the evening. Of course, you don’t need to be so strict when contacting others. Maybe one or two of the contacts can wait until the next morning.

6. The use of apps.

If you find this irresistible, there are apps that can help: the makers of Offtime were also longing for a break in everyday life. The application blocks and filters calls and certain apps on your phone, making it easier for you to resist distractions at work and prevent you from opening your business e-mails after work. The Workflow Timer app also has a supportive effect, allowing you to define fixed times for concentrated work and the breaks between them. You will be amazed how much work you can do in 30 undisturbed minutes.

Woman uses smartphone.

This is how to handle your smartphone smartly II:

7. Off you go to rehab.

If the app doesn’t help, there is a somewhat more radical solution: the cold digital withdrawal. From the monastery of silence to the digital detox camp, there are numerous possibilities to take a very conscious break from digital life and find your way back to analogue. Whether it is major or minor changes you seek, the conscious handling of your smartphone will help you to enjoy more time, peace and composure. Because you really don’t have to be accessible at all times. No-one will take it amiss.