October 9, 2015
Life With or Without Smartphones
The devices have only been around for a decade, but already they have so fundamentally infiltrated our day-to-day that for many of us, life can be broken down into two distinct eras: before and after the advent of the smartphone. Most smartphone users I know have said at one time or another “I can’t imagine my life without a smartphone.” On its surface, that’s a dramatic (and vague) statement. The thing is we could live without our smartphones. I like many others choose not to. I could use all the web apps that go side by said with my phone apps and use my laptop that I carry around with me everywhere. My phone however is and will always be more convenient than my laptop or carrying around a calendar/planner and pen. We are addicted to our smartphones. Our phones, more so than our tablet devices and notebook computers, are the culprits behind our insatiable need to keep abreast of everything that’s happening around the world.
Things have gotten so bad that we now check or use our phones at dinner, in the bathroom, while driving, at the movies and in bed. For the majority of smartphone users, our phone is the last thing we check at night and the first thing we reach for in the morning. Many of us have chargers that double as a carrying case while others carry their chargers with them in the event their phones die from overuse. Yep, we are addicted to our smartphones!
A Gallup poll (JULY 9, 2015, of only 15,747 U.S. adults) showed that of that group 81 percent of smartphone users keep their phones nearby for the entire day, and 72 percent report checking the device hourly. Which honestly, seems like monumental restraint (writing this, I checked my phone for a text alert, to use the calculator, and just…. because).
My device has become my constant companion; I rely on it to wake me up in the morning, get me where I need to go, keep track and notify me of my appointments. It plays an important role in keeping me connected wherever I am in the world. I text family and friends with important messages (e.g., “I’m running five minutes late” “Where are we meeting?”), I conduct business on my phone, use it as a GPS, listen to music and I take pictures to capture everyday moments. like this video of the crazy Ginger kitty.
However, at 9pm every night my phone goes silent, it stays on, but it does not make a sound I only started doing that about 2 years ago. I could physically feel the relief from being untethered to my smartphone. It almost felt like freedom. I wasn’t beholden to the people texting me, calling me or updating their social media platforms. I could hear my surroundings instead of the monotonous sound of my notifications.
It wasn’t easy at first. Whenever I would receive a work email even off the clock I would feel that I would need to take care of it. My at work switch never shut off. I would be distracted and was never happy with anything. For the first week I caught myself still checking my phone constantly for something I may have missed. But then I accepted my new reality, after about 4-5 days. My world didn’t fall apart because I wasn’t productive every second of the day, and wasn’t on top of every message instantly. I actually survived not immediately knowing exactly where Crimea was or who won the Oscars last year. Shocking, I know.
When our lives are always connected, being disconnected for just a few hours can be a relief. This was my experience, however you will not be seeing me out and about without my smartphone.