I recently read a HelloGiggles article by Courtney Batzofin that detailed her addiction to mobile technology. As I sifted through the warning signs, I realized we had something in common: I too suffer from a cell phone addiction.
I check Facebook while eating at restaurants, text on the toilet, even tweet in movie theatres.
I know, I know. It sounds terrible. Courtney’s article was just the wakeup call I needed, and I decided to heed her good advice and start leaving my cell behind. But as I went through the week following the recommendations for recovery, I realized something important. I don’t want to recover.
At first cell phone detox was difficult. I found myself longing to press the round button that would light up my iPhone at dinner. It was worse than waiting to open Christmas presents. What surprises would be on my Twitter feed after an hour away from my precious phone?
But saying goodbye got progressively easier. I started leaving my phone at home when I went to the beach– gone were my days of staring longingly at my beach bag while trying to enjoy the water. I actually enjoyed the freedom of not worrying about my phone getting stolen as it lounged on my towel.
We spent hours apart. I would leave it on my dresser in the morning and not pick it up until dinner (in case I needed to call a cab). Once I even forgot my phone entirely and had to run inside to snatch it off the counter.
Of course, there were positives to being a recovered cell phone addict. I could fit all of my necessary items into a single wristlet. My friends no longer goaded me about their plans to throw my phone into the ocean. I stopped reaching into my purse at every vibration, only to realize the bass was simply too loud.
But there were negatives, too. I missed the constant pulse of information. It had been my habit to browse headlines in spare seconds, sometimes while waiting in line at the grocery store or in the doctor’s office. I occasionally carried on two conversations at once, asking one friend how his interview went while considering the lobsters with my dinner partner.
And I don’t think my conversations were any worse because of multitasking. When conversations get deep, I put my phone away and give my undivided attention. But the rest of the time? I don’t need to devote full brainpower to small talk– why not use the extra to keep up other friendships?
I am concerned that my constant phone use insults my friends. But people will realize (hopefully soon!) that just because someone is looking at their phone doesn’t mean they’re ignoring everyone else! We’ve reached a new level of productivity, and social norms should shift to reflect that.
The bottom line? Without my phone, the world was quieter. And not in a good way. I didn’t read the new article on single mothers, missed Obama’s scathing ad against Romney and all of the commentary that immediately followed, and blew past a new review of Breaking Bad. I also missed a blow-by-blow of a friend’s first date and the latest updates about my co-worker’s fight with her dad.
Those stories weren’t necessary to my career, or even to my life. But I like being well informed. And there’s just too much information out there to not read during every spare second– even if it means sounding a little distracted when the cashier asks “Paper or plastic?”