Tuesday, September 3, 2013

How my iPhone ruined my life

I remember the day I got my phone. When they handed me that little white box it was like they were handing me the world. Life will start now, I thought, as I cracked back the lid and saw the perfect 4.8 by 2.3 inch screen. Resting neatly into the palm of my hand, it felt so right--ready at any moment to connect me with the world. The possibilities were endless.
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When I turned it on, I dreamed of the places we would go, my phone and I. Now I would never get lost. Now I would never forget anything. But most importantly,  I would never be bored. I'd already made a list of apps I wanted to download, in order to ensure the best experience between me and my device. My fiance and I went to a coffee shop right after and downloaded our entire lives into our phones, fitting them neatly into the iPhone's tiny four ounce body. Lighter then a cup of coffee--and able to juggle appointments, birthdays, calls, messages, and buy clothes, listen to songs--even record our dreams in perfect HD video.

I won't lie, things were great. I never got lost (expect for that one time on the parkway when there was no cell reception) and I never forgot anything (except for that time when I left my phone at home before going shopping). And I was never bored. Breaks between work were spent hunched over the 4-inch retina display, playing Plants vs. Zombies, or surfing Twitter and Facebook. Stopped at a red light? Maybe someone texted me. Waiting for an appointment? I'm glad Vine is here to entertain me. What did I ever do before? 

And lets not forget the hype. The hype I felt because I was somebody now. I mean, my iPhone clearly made me an elite member of a the special Smart Phone club. We went everywhere together. We saw everything together. People who didn't have a smart phone, well they wanted one. They knew they were living in the dark age, as present-day neanderthals, with their phones--their "phones" that only took calls. I remember my friends all marveling at my iPhone. So cool. I only have this crappy brick, they'd say, asking to see it, to push the buttons. They only wished they were me.

Because, clearly I was living life to the fullest. My phone clearly enabled me to have better life experiences. Now, I could tell the world that I was currently eating ice cream with the boy, complete with a 140 character twitter message and corresponding selfie. Everyone can now see where I am. And more importantly; what I am eating. Don't you wish you were eating it to?

And now, I can google an infinite number of questions--whenever I want--satisfying my curiosity within a blink of an eye, fixing my problem or concern almost before I'd even realized it existed.

When did I notice that I had a problem?

Perhaps it was when 5 out of the 7 days a week I woke up to my husband on his iPhone, laying next to me, the bright light illuminating our small bedroom, his eyes glued to the screen.  

Perhaps it was when I realized I spend most my evenings at home, playing a game. Or even when I go out, I spend the time waiting for food to arrive, playing a game. Or as we are driving to another place, I mostly just sit next to my husband, and play a game.

Perhaps it was when one day I clocked my phone time and it was over three hours. Over four hours.

It was definitely when I realized I couldn't go anywhere without my phone. Leave it at home? No, it had to be with me, connected to my person. I might miss something.

And it was when I saw myself spending more time on my phone then reading my bible. More time on my phone then sewing. More time sitting next to my husband in bed, both of us on our phones, then engaged in conversation.

We used to talk to each other.

I used to wake up and read my bible, not, first thing in the morning, look at my phone.

And then I begin asking some hard questions.

What is this lie that I've bought into? This lie that this little white phone can make my life better, that instant connection to twitter and instagram and tagging myself and tweeting about my breakfast--how is that helping me become a better person, how is this helping me worship the Holy God?

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When is anything uploaded to Facebook ever a clear representation of my life? When did I start to care about how my life looked online, more then cultivating the personal relationships I have with my friends? When has anything I've done online opened doors to a deeper, more intimate experience with anyone? 

When did I let my iPhone take over my time, and reorder my priorities? 

This week I've decided that I'm done.

I'm sad to say I regret my choice to purchase a smart phone, a choice I will not make again.

Because instead of adding to my life, my phone has become a burden and a stumbling block to me and to those around me.

I came to the realization that the iPhone, and other smart phones, were made to catch your attention. They are made to entertain you: with games and facts and easy photo apps. And, the more time they keep you on the phone, the more money they make, either from running advertisements or from you purchasing apps. My phone is constantly telling me, through commercials and advertisements, that this product will make me happier, and that my life will be, and is, better--just because I own one. This belief will keep their consumers coming back and back to purchase only the phone, but also the experience attached to it. An experience that can ruin lives.

They say its more convenient. They say you need it. Do you?

Yes, I know, it is my decision to spend so much on my phone, my decision to be swept away by the easy entertainment that rests just inches from my fingertips. But I can't seem to make the right decision, the decision to put the phone down and do something else. I'm hooked on iPhone. It's my drug of choice.

Am I the only one? I don't think so.

So I ask you this.

How much time do you spend on your phone? If you want to know, there is an app that clocks it for you. This question, and it's subsequent answer will define how you live your life. Or if you live your life.

As for me, I've had my husband install an app on my phone that allows me to access it for only one hour a day. We will see how this goes. Baring relapse, I will totally get rid of my phone. I will not become a slave to it again. 

What will you do?

15 comments:

  1. I can definitely relate to this, but my technology addiction has actually been my computer. I can spend hours on here doing nothing at all, and it just makes me feel pathetic. Lately I've started to realize that it's kind of a coping mechanism for me---a very unhealthy one. I've got more on my plate than I can really handle at the moment, so I'll turn on my laptop and open facebook or pinterest or something just to avoid the real world and all the stress it brings me. I waste time, and then I hardly have enough to finish the things I'm supposed to be doing, much less to do anything I want to do, like writing or crochet. I used to read my Bible in the mornings, but now I find myself glued to my computer screen most days.
    Getting rid of my computer isn't an option for me, but I'm going to do as much as I can to limit my use. Any projects I can print off and do with pencil and paper, I will. Anything else, I'll open only the screens I need to. No facebook or pinterest running at the same time as an easy-out option.
    Thank you so much for posting this. It's the kick I need to actually start taking control of my problem. Good luck overcoming your phone addiction! I know you can :)

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  2. up until last night i only had a phone that would place calls and send super short texts. but it finally died. and our promotion to upgrade phones was going to end yesterday. so i got a new one. i don't even know what it is, but it's definitely fancier than what i had. i kept telling peppy i didn't want a nice phone. i don't WANT the internet at my fingers 24/7. nothing makes my skin boil like seeing a nice family moment ruined by both parents typing away on their phones. when it comes to technology, i know i should have been born in a different time.


    i have a feeling that my phone will come in handy if i'm lost somewhere. and i am thankful to have a little camera to carry around, because i busted the screen of mine on gage's first day of school. but other than that, i hope i forgot where i put it just as regularly as my old phone.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Charlotte Paris WoodSeptember 3, 2013 at 8:09 AM

    It's so strange how I can be doing something that I am perfectly content with, and I feel my phone calling to me, asking to come out of my pocket, saying "look at facebook. It's been 10 minutes, there might be something new." I admire your decision. I have to work hard to make sure my phone doesn't take over my life. We all do.

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  4. This is how I've always felt about smart phones. I just don't need to have technology that accessible. I already have a computer. both Angel and I only have phones that take calls. Angel does have an ipod touch. One of the first days he had it he brought it into our bedroom at night and I immediately said that it didn't belong in our room, and ever since, he's never brought it in there again. We don't have tv or computers in our room ever, and the ipod should not be there either! That is the place for just us, not mindless entertainment and technology!
    Good for you for recognizing the power that these smartphones can sometimes have. It's sad that they can be so addicting.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Very interesting post. I spend lots of time on my phone, but even before the cell phone craze, I never really like cell phones. Not just smart phones, cell phones in general. Before I got a cell phone, I absolutely hated the idea that anyone at any time could contact me in some way or another. It felt like I wasn't in control of my privacy or alone time.

    So! When I finally got a cell phone, I left it on silent constantly. "I'll check my phone when I want to and I'll get back to you when I can." That habit of leaving my phone on silent (complete silent, not vibrate) has carried over to my smartphone. It definitely helps me stay off of it when I'm not constantly hearing an alert sound of some kind. I've found that turning off my data completely also helps because it eliminates most of the distractions on the smartphone besides texts, calls, and games/apps that don't use data.

    But I'll admit, I still stay on it waaaay too often. I do the same things you do: think of a random question? Google it immediately. Stopped at a redlight? Check for texts. Bored at work? Facebook or Snapchat or Instagram or Pinterest or email....ugh. I don't even wear a watch anymore. My phone is my "watch" (which can contribute to me checking it constantly). I was spending too much time on FB so I decided to delete the app off my phone. It helped for a few weeks until I discovered the mobile site through Safari is just as convenient to access. It's like an addiction. Is there an iPhones Addicts Anonymous? :P

    By the way, the first part of your post reminded me of this scene from Portlandia: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1-eU-03LRc

    ReplyDelete
  6. Very interesting post. I spend lots of time on my phone, but even before the cell phone craze, I never really like cell phones. Not just smart phones, cell phones in general. Before I got a cell phone, I absolutely hated the idea that anyone at any time could contact me in some way or another. It felt like I wasn't in control of my privacy or alone time.

    So! When I finally got a cell phone, I left it on silent constantly. "I'll check my phone when I want to and I'll get back to you when I can." That habit of leaving my phone on silent (complete silent, not vibrate) has carried over to my smartphone. It definitely helps me stay off of it when I'm not constantly hearing an alert sound of some kind. I've found that turning off my data completely also helps because it eliminates most of the distractions on the smartphone besides texts, calls, and games/apps that don't use data.

    But I'll admit, I still stay on it waaaay too often. I do the same things you do: think of a random question? Google it immediately. Stopped at a redlight? Check for texts. Bored at work? Facebook or Snapchat or Instagram or Pinterest or email....ugh. I don't even wear a watch anymore. My phone is my "watch" (which can contribute to me checking it constantly). I was spending too much time on FB so I decided to delete the app off my phone. It helped for a few weeks until I discovered the mobile site through Safari is just as convenient to access. It's like an addiction. Is there an iPhones Addicts Anonymous? :P

    By the way, the first part of your post reminded me of this scene from Portlandia: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1-eU-03LRc

    ReplyDelete
  7. (Sorry if this gets posted more than once. Was lazy and tried to comment as a guest but it never showed up.)

    Very interesting post. I spend lots of time on my phone, but even before the cell phone craze, I never really like cell phones. Not just smart phones, cell phones in general. Before I got a cell phone, I absolutely hated the idea that anyone at any time could contact me in some way or another. It felt like I wasn't in control of my privacy or alone time.

    So! When I finally got a cell phone, I left it on silent constantly. "I'll check my phone when I want to and I'll get back to you when I can." That habit of leaving my phone on silent (complete silent, not vibrate) has carried over to my smartphone. It definitely helps me stay off of it when I'm not constantly hearing an alert sound of some kind. I've found that turning off my data completely also helps because it eliminates most of the distractions on the smartphone besides texts, calls, and games/apps that don't use data.

    But I'll admit, I still stay on it waaaay too often. I do the same things you do: think of a random question? Google it immediately. Stopped at a redlight? Check for texts. Bored at work? Facebook or Snapchat or Instagram or Pinterest or email....ugh. I don't even wear a watch anymore. My phone is my "watch" (which can contribute to me checking it constantly). I was spending too much time on FB so I decided to delete the app off my phone. It helped for a few weeks until I discovered the mobile site through Safari is just as convenient to access. It's like an addiction. Is there an iPhones Addicts Anonymous? :P

    By the way, the first part of your post reminded me of this scene from Portlandia: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1-eU-03LRc

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great post. As someone who has always hated cell phones, I wholeheartedly agree with your conclusion. :) I don't like talking on the phone, anyway...I don't even answer our house phone, so even a cell phone just for talking would be worthless to me. And I know I spend too much time online at my computer as it is, so there's no way I want or need the ability to access the internet at all times. Between my parents and I, we have one old Tracfone that we have for emergencies and to let each other know where we are or when we'll be home. I think it's sad how our culture has become with their phones and technology in general.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Tiffany @ PinkFaithTodaySeptember 3, 2013 at 11:19 PM

    Really great, thought provoking post. I'm going to find the app that logs your phone time. I'm kind of scared to know what the result will be. But you couldn't be more correct that anything that pulls me away from intimate time with God must be addressed.

    ReplyDelete
  10. One of the things I did was look under Usage on my phone. To do this, plug your phone in at night and fully recharge it. This resets your count to zero. Now use it all day just like normal. At the end of the day look at your usage and that will tell you how much you have used your phone that day. This is how I checked my time the first time. Then I downloaded DATA MANAGER, and thought it would help with the problem, but I just ignored it. So I have webwatcher on my phone now. This is a parental control app, and it costs costs money.

    For tracking time, I also found this app. But I don't have it.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTk64ViaSI0

    Another App I use is inCharge. Its a little weird, so check it out.

    Hope this helps!

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  11. For monitoring how much time I spend on my computer, I use Rescue Time: https://www.rescuetime.com/ if you are interested :)

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  12. I LOVE this. I agree 100%. I'm working on limiting my iPhone time too. I find myself grabbing for it and not even realizing it. I hate it! It really is more of a curse than a blessing.

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  13. yeah some people are glued to their phones... for me I don't really go on it that often, or at least I try, I always find it rude when you're out with someone and they're texting the entire time

    ReplyDelete
  14. Wow, great post. I've been feeling the same way lately, and I've been doing my best to make myself aware that I need to put the phone away and pay attention to the present moment. So far, it's working. I hope that this tactic continues to do so. I love having the convenience of a phone, and I don't think I will be able to ever give it up. I just have to remind myself that it's simply a phone and nothing more than that.

    Cheers!
    Akshara
    Simply Akshara

    ReplyDelete
  15. What's the app where it tracks your time and what's the app where you are only given an hour of use a day? Please and thank you.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you so much for commenting! Your thoughts bring smiles to my face :)

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