couples

"My partner and I are always on our phones, so we tried this experiment for a week. Here's exactly what we learned."

Optus
Thanks to our brand partner, Optus

Here’s the thing: I’m usually a self-aware person. Pathetically so.   

I’m the type that will dissect every little thing I say throughout the day to make sure that everything is above board. Sometimes I’ll even replay my most awkward memories out in my head just to give my present day self a healthy dose of second-hand embarrassment. (It keeps me humble, after all.)

So, you can understand my confusion when I came to the totally shocking and earth-shattering realisation that I am a total and utter hypocrite. Not even a small one. A giant one. With egg smeared all over her face.

Of course, this realisation did not occur until I challenged my partner to see if he was up for taking Optus Pause for a test drive.

Let me explain. 

Up until this point, there’s always been one thing that I’ve come to believe as absolute truth — I have excellent self-control when it comes to electronic devices and my partner, Josh, well... does not.

How could he when there seems to be an unspoken rule that men are in approximately 535 groups chats with the same friends (just in different combinations, give or take a few additions), talking about the same stuff at every second of the day?

Well, apparently, he can. 

So, when I asked him if he was up for this little experiment, he agreed on one condition — we compare our phone usage.

And this is where things took a turn for the worst: 

And at this moment, I knew I had stuffed up. Mine on the left, his on the right. Image: Supplied.

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Even though I hate numbers, I know they don’t lie. 

Which is exactly how I found myself also compelled to roadtest Optus Pause for a week, along with my partner. Here’s the lowdown on how it went. 

Monday

Before we kicked off our little experiment, we had to test the function out. Optus Pause is a part of the Optus Living Network, which is available exclusively to Optus customers.

It allows you to ‘pause’ your internet connection on chosen devices so that you can disconnect from the virtual world and reconnect with the real one.

All we have to do is open up the My Optus app, and the numbers linked to our account will appear. We select the device we'd like to pause and determine how long the session will last:

Image: Supplied.

During our first night, we took it pretty easy. We set a timer for 20 minutes right before bed. 

I got through 18 pages of my book and my partner listened to one of the NFL podcasts he had downloaded earlier in the day (sounds riveting, Josh).

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Tuesday

On Tuesday, we decided to take it up a notch and use it during dinner. We’re usually pretty good at the table, though occasionally we'll have one or two slips.

While the writing on the wall (read: the lying iPhone) will tell you otherwise, I’m actually the better one at the table. He’ll sometimes grab his phone to show me a video or check his work emails.

We set Optus Pause for 30 minutes and after we had a bit of chat, we played a couple of games of cards. 

He’ll try to tell you otherwise, but I won three out of the four rounds of Briscola (and you know I reminded him about it for the rest of the week).

Image: Supplied.

While he didn’t enjoy losing, he said that it was good to get back to playing. We started a bit of a tradition earlier in the year but we hadn’t done it in months. We’ll chalk it up to player’s fatigue because we are Briscola ~professionals~.

Wednesday

To change things up, we used Optus Pause after dinner while we both unwound from the day. We set the timer for 45 minutes this time as we were feeling a bit... confident.

Reading is the actual love of my life (sorry, Josh) but I’ve been in a slump for the last month or so. I started a new job so everything has been a little hectic. I also can’t lie to you — I’ve spent most of my downtime lately scrolling through Instagram and YouTube instead of picking up my book. Whoops. So naturally, it felt good to cut the distraction off at its source, and take a much-needed digital breather.

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And in case you’re interested (don’t lie, you are), I read a total of 38 pages. 

Josh actually unplugged from work which he struggles to do sometimes. A people pleaser and overachiever, that one. 

Thursday

After dinner, we decided to take a leaf out of Troy Bolton’s book and chuck around the basketball. To make sure we were motivated to do it, we decided to set Optus Pause for 45 minutes, just to make sure we were accountable in actually disconnecting – without being tempted to document the activity on our Instagram Stories.

I delayed physical activity for approximately 13 minutes when I finally got off the couch. If my phone had been connected to the Wi-Fi, those thirteen minutes may (definitely would) have multiplied.

My partner spent the next 30 minutes trying to school me in basketball which I’m not sure was entirely successful but hey, he tried. 

That aside, it was quite entertaining and wholesome to be in each other's company without being online, and heck, we might even now make this a weekly tournament while we wait for the NBA to call upon our skills.

Image: Supplied.

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Friday

By the time Friday rolled around, we felt like we were crawling towards the weekend.

At the very young ages of 25 and 27, we’ve voluntarily decided that our favourite way to spend our Friday evenings is on the couch. (Really living up our twenties here).

To make sure we entered super focus mode (we try to take our movie-watching very seriously), we switched on Optus Pause for the duration of the movie.

Earlier in the week, we learned the app is super flexible too — you can select certain devices to pause, which is great because we were able to cut the Wi-Fi off from our phones but could still stream the movie from our TV. 

In case you're wondering, neither of us particularly liked the movie (if we ever needed to mindlessly scroll through Instagram, it was in that very moment), but we both agreed that spending the time dissecting the movie together, rather than staring at our phone screens, was still quality time well-spent.

Our Verdict

Well, apart from the whole hypocrite thing, I realised that sometimes the best thing to do is simply remove the distraction. Such a foreign concept, I know! Although we all know that sometimes, that’s easier said than done.

But with the help of Optus Pause it was actually possible. As a couple, it gave us a much easier playing field to be in control of our time together – both online and offline – and actually reconnect with each other for some quality, hearty (or plain ridiculous) conversation. 

Individually, it gave me a chance to get back to reading, one the biggest parts of me, and a new chance to beat my partner at cards (all hail the new Briscola champion).

What did it give him? Well, he said he gained a new sense of smugness because he apparently has more self-control than I do when it comes to devices (a whole hour and 14 minutes worth!) but he also learned that it’s okay to step back from work sometimes, and carve out more time to get outdoors together. And of course — that his girlfriend is very, very good at Italian card games.

If you’re wanting to disconnect to reconnect, make sure you check out Optus Pause. Available to eligible  Optus mobile and home WiFi customers in My Optus App.

Feature Image: Supplied/Mamamia.

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Optus
Optus Pause is an Australian-first innovation where you can pause both your mobile and home connectivity across your devices, all from My Optus app. Find balance with Optus Pause. A new tool to help you manage your time online.