My iPhone holds my entire life. My calendar, telephone numbers, editing software for this blog, photos, my to-do list, email, and everything else that I need to keep my life organized. I wake up and skim the newspaper on it. Throughout the day I use it to check social networking sites, read recipes, take quick pictures, check traffic. I go to sleep reading digital books on its tiny screen. It is the only material thing that should I forget at home, I will turn back around and drive miles to fetch.
My life hasn’t always been this technology-driven, but it’s hard for me to remember a time without it. Husband and I purchased the first models in 2007 and quickly became addicted to the convenience. Internet on the go, GPS, restaurant reviews, movie times—it has lent a faster pace to our daily movements and made many things easier. But convenience doesn’t come cheap, and ours is no exception. We pay exorbitant monthly fees for minutes, data and texting. We buy applications, books and audio books, music, and countless apps. We’ve upgraded to newer, faster models. Everything we do or want to do is assisted by this tiny, pocket-sized device. But in the grand scheme of things, has it made our lives better? More communicative? More enjoyable?
Last week during our stay in the Rocky Mountains I came to a frightening realization. We had no cell phone reception in our camp—only wifi in certain spots. When I was in those spots I was voraciously catching up on Facebook and Twitter. I gulped down celebrity news from gossip sites as quickly as I could. I binged on my favorite blogs, and even my not-so-favorite, just to get a little screen time. When there was no wifi, I became antsy. I was missing something. I felt naked without my internet-connected touch screen. The moments I could tap and swipe gave some relief—I immediately felt better. But what did those moments get me? Where did they get me?
A distraction for 5 minutes, and that’s about it. And the whole time I was being distracted from friends and family that I hardly ever get to visit with; people that I should have been paying attention to. But most of them were not any better. We were all guilty of swiping and tapping our little gadgets the whole week, even during meals, at the fire pit roasting marshmallows, during a family wedding reception. By the end of the vacation I was in a pit of despair. I love my gadget, but with all of it’s promises of a new level of interconnectedness, it left me feeling more alone and more isolated than ever.
Now that we’re home, the full weight of the situation has finally laid down upon me. While I was cooking (read: reheating) dinner yesterday evening, Husband was getting Lucy ready for our meal: bib, highchair, milk. As he was motoring his way through these tasks his right hand was (to my un-suprise) glued to his iPhone. Playing games. I was miffed. I swirled around the kitchen in holier-than-thou huff, tossing around pork chops and throwing tomatoes into the salad. He doesn’t have two seconds to concentrate on getting dinner to his daughter? He has to be distracted by a game the whole time? I picked a fight. We argued. And after dinner, still peeved and eager for a solution, I retreated to the glowing light of the laptop to write about it. I needed some clarity. I needed a solution.
But what I came up with was that I was no better. I too am guilty of ignoring our daughter at many points throughout the day. I check Facebook nearly every hour in an effort to interact with people I hardly know; I tweet the goings on of my day to an audience of strangers. I text instead of hearing the voices of my nearest and dearest. I stash my addiction in my pocket so when the urge strikes, I can indulge in a moment of digital drug use.
What I’ve decided is that I need to go cold turkey. I need to remember what life was like before this gadget, and decide whether it is important enough in my life to keep around or not. It costs money, time, and brain power. What do I get in return? What does it bring me? What am I losing, and what have I already lost?
- For this month of July, 2010, I will live as though my iphone is a home phone. I will stay on it’s dock and I will not carry it with me when I leave the house. (Why go completely non-cell phone? I don’t need the temptation. Plus, I’m pretty darn curious to see what it will be like.)
- I will not use my iphone to access the internet, check email, text, or use any other capability that is not available on a regular home phone.
- Husband, when he is home or with Lucy and I, will not use his phone for anything other than phone calls and texts (he’s not willing to perform the full experiment with me yet, but I’m working on him).
- I will document our anti-digital endeavor on this blog, and in the end, make a decision: iPhone or no iPhone.
For some of you, this may sound ludicrous. Give up technology? Why on earth? At this point, on day one, I don’t feel as though I am giving up that much. I still have this laptop on which to check internet goings-on. I still have a telephone, I still have the means to communicate. What I am really giving up is those moments of distraction that ultimately (I feel) are a waste of time.
For the other half of you who aren’t in the iPhone world, this may sound completely simple. I assure you it won’t be easy. When you’ve become accustomed to life as we know it, your whole world seemingly exists inside one tiny screen. We are junkies, and this is a self-imposed intervention.
I’ll keep you posted. And until then, wish me the best of luck.