Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Why My iPhone Is Also Like Crack Cocaine

I started college in 1996. I know, I know, you're all like "Girl. What?!? You look so young and fabulous to be that incredibly old." I hear that all the time. OK, no I don't. But, regardless, I was a freshman in college seventeen years ago (that's an 11th grader's lifespan, if you needed a reference for how old that is). And, that is also about the time that The Internet was gaining popularity. I think. We didn't have a computer at home, so I might have been a little behind the times. Anyhoo, I distinctly remember sitting down at a computer as an innocent little freshman and staring at the screen knowing I could type in anything I wanted and supposedly it would magically appear, conjured up by something birthed by Al Gore's genius. I remember having no idea what to look up.

Back in those days, we liked to call it "The World Wide Web."

OK, fast forward to the present where I have a small, hot pink, mini computer in my hand called the iPhone. People stand in line for days, nay weeks, to be the first ones to own these magical little machines that connect us to everything in a hot second. I got my first iPhone a year ago and the thought of not having one now feels like trying to imagine life without air conditioning or running water or the Pythagorean Theorum.

Now, that I've given you a timeline of sorts of my relationship with technology and the difference seventeen years makes in the way we get information, I need to talk about my need for an intervention.

I watched a two-minute video my friend's husband posted recently showing people doing normal everyday things in their normal, everyday lives and how their phone figured prominently in every single life experience: people getting engaged while the man down on one knee simultaneously films the whole thing with his phone, friends at a table talking until everyone slowly disengages from the conversation as they get sucked into the black hole of their handheld devices, people at a birthday party missing significant moments because they're too busy taking pictures of themselves that are then instantly uploaded into cyberspace with hashtags like #partylikeits1999, #birthdaycrunk and #gettinmypartyon.

After that video, I put my phone in time-out and went on to experience actual things that were not virtual or streaming or sidebarred by ads. That lasted a few hours, maybe the rest of the day. And, then I was drawn back to my shiny pandora's box,* where little bits of information like Kanye's quote of the day or Martha Stewart's quiche of the month waited for me to be drawn in by their fascinating taglines despite their total irrelevance to my life.

Maybe I should take a moment here to note that I love the fact that I can access information quicker than I could in 1994 when the answer to a research question for a paper required a visit to an actual library, microfiche, card catalogs, and possible librarians who smelled faintly of mothballs. I like being able to find out who invented spandex in 23 seconds, and I like finding an answer to my current cooking dilemma (i.e. Can I still make cookies if I don't have an egg or flour or butter? Yes.) faster than I can call my mother.

We're working on budgeting Dave Ramsey style this year and while I'm totally in it to win it, it does give me heartburn trying to figure out how to fit my Chic fil a addiction into the "grocery" budget. In light of said budgeting, Matt mentioned our phone bill and queried how we could lower that monthly expense. I felt my heartbeat speed up as he casually brought my attention to the fact that my need for 24/7 internet access on my phone was a significant line item in our budget. Something primal inside of me felt threatened and I responded a bit more passionately than even I expected. I think the words, "But, I love my iPhone," came out of my mouth. And the husband who purposely bought a flip phone not that long ago smiled (somewhat) nervously.

So, I'm just pondering this lately and wondering what the deal is with iPhones. I didn't expect to get so emotionally attached. And I'm not so sure I like how it's become an appendage of my person or how it dictates my time and interrupts my life. All of which I am allowing it to do, mind you.

Eight weeks into my second baby's life, I put my phone down and realized she was already smiling and cooing and trying to talk to me and I'd been totally missing it.

On a long-ish trip to somewhere recently, I was busily looking up the weather and emailing a friend and looking up a place for us to eat and maybe even watching a short video on cats dancing, when Matt managed to break through my iPhone make-out session and asked for a teensy bit of my attention. I put it away but it was back out a little later, more discreetly this time, of course.

What is going on? Why do I crave constant virtual connection and immediate updates about friend's thoughts on their trip to Wal-Mart and random information about celebrities I don't even care about?
What is the deal with my iPhone and my need to take it with me EVERYWHERE? Sam brings it to me if I leave a room without it. Apparently, he's aware of the fact that I can't be without it for more than twenty seconds and it's possible he thinks I'm not physically able to keep breathing if I don't have it on my person at all times.

This is a problem.

And so, dear readers, I find that the time has come for a small, but firm, intervention. I haven't decided yet what it will look like or how I will go about it, but I'm coming to the realization that I'm missing out on my life by being connected to the wrong thing. I don't want my little ones growing up remembering me with a phone in my hand.

I'm curious if any of you have discovered some practical, realistic ways to cut back on your iPhone time. I realize I could just flush it down the toilet, but I think there might be a better way to go about this.


*According to the all-knowing Wikipedia, "Today the phrase 'to open Pandora's box' means to perform an action that may seem small or innocent, but that turns out to have severe and far-reaching consequences."


  1. Please share how u cut back! I need to as well!

  2. I have to admit that I was stopped in my tracks the other day when I was playing "dollhouse" with Ella. I pulled the mommy out of the box, indending to put her in one of the dollhouse rooms. Ella took her from my hand, and she said, "The mommy goes in here by the computer. She has to get her work done." Immediate tears in my eyes, as I realized that this might be what Ella remembers from these years....mommy works on the computer. Now, I actually DO work on the computer at home - it's my job - but from Ella's perspective, that doesn't matter, does it? Sigh.

  3. Is it bad that I read this on my iPhone while in Chick-fila's parking lot with my toddler in the backseat? I think I can relate a little.

  4. Yes lawd. Same conversation with the hubs. SAME REACTION. And I have no answer...yet. I have gone on day long "fasts" which are hard but great. But then the next day I am back at it. Truly an addiction. Boo.



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