My big fat phone addiction
My iPhone is ruining my life… but I’m as dependent on it as my two thumbs
I arrived in Bangkok last Saturday morning when the only cars on the road are tuk-tuks with late-night partiers yelling in the back, motorcycles street racing, or weary travellers like me trying to find their home for the night.
After touring Vietnam alone for twenty-five days, I’m doing the second leg of this trip, Thailand, with my mom and stepdad. Since I arrived, we haven’t stopped. Street markets. Bike tours. Muay Thai fights. Ancient ruins. Sacred temples. Grand palaces. Canal boat rides. Pad Thai and Thai curry galore. The only time I’ve touched my phone is when I’m navigating Google Maps to get somewhere or reading in bed for zero point five seconds before falling asleep.
I’ve been living in the real world more than ever yet with so much time away from my phone, I feel like I’m missing something. Falling behind.
Texts and emails to respond to. Zoom meetings to join and Facetime calls to have. Essays to write and to read and to leave comments on. Credit card bills to pay and investments to make. A Fitbit to sync and sleep scores to analyze. A virtual journal to update with yesterday’s events. Notifications stacking up demanding my attention.
When I don’t attend to my phone as constantly as it demands, it starts to feel like I’m drowning.
While backcountry hiking in British Columbia last summer, I didn’t have signal for three days at a time. My phone was shut off and stowed in my backpack.
For those few days, I got to live fully in the real world where birds chirp and trees stretch effortlessly into the sky and people can’t hide behind their screens, acting cooler and more boldly than they ever would in real life. I started to notice more around me and stopped performing my three hundred and seventy-four times per day ritual of reaching down into my right pants pocket to grab my phone, often a tic with no purpose in mind.
But as we neared our exit from the forest, I could feel all of the unattended to emails and messages and to-dos waiting for me on that little black box of time death. Spending more time away from my phone — a very good thing — created stomach-wrenching anxiety and fueled a desire to use it again because of all I may have missed and will need to catch up on.
In brief moments of my life when I’m fully immersed in what I’m doing, I forget completely about my phone and get to experience life as it was intended to be lived.
I hope smartphones become the new smoking.
But for now, unless I want to commit to a much slower pace of life where I get lost often and take way more time to do the same stuff, I’m utterly dependent on my phone.
I’d have to drastically change my life to use a dumbphone (a phone with limited capabilities). And even though I might try to delete all of my apps and commit to not using the web browser or email on my phone, I’ll probably relapse as soon as I need some dual-factor authentication to pay my credit card bill or Google to find a train schedule.
We’ve become so utterly dependent on our phones so quickly without thinking of all the potential consequences. It’s not impossible to rage against technology, but it’s damn hard to navigate modern life without a high-speed smartphone in your pocket.
Here’s my current anti-iPhone strategy: