“Technology is a useful servant and a dangerous master.”
-Christian Louis Lange
“Siri, play Van Morrison’s Greatest Hits.”
***iTunes begins to play music and I don’t lift a finger.***
I wonder how long it would take to drive to Miami.
***Apple Maps tells me 10 hours.***
This traffic is so slow. I’m bored.
***Picks up phone and selects the Facebook App and begins to scroll.***
My daughter is doing a puzzle, I’m going to just look at Instagram really quick.
***Proceeds to select the app and browse until child begs her to pay attention.***
Easily, and before we know it, we stop using technology as a tool and start being owned by our phones. I am not proud of those last few lines, yet they are very true. I, like so many others, have become a slave to the technology; not the other way around. While iPhones are fantastic for bringing you a wealth of information right at your fingertips, it also brings something very harmful: addiction.
Nearly three days ago I was getting Vivienne off the boat, hands full of stuff, when I felt something start to drop. Assuming it was her book I thought, Oh, that’s okay, I’ll just get her another one. Until I realized what was falling wasn’t her book but my very expensive, very not-paid-off iPhone 7. I put Vivienne on the dock just in time to watch this beautiful, over-priced piece of technology hit the surface of the Stono River with a splash! before flipping over gracefully to reveal the adorable phone case with Vivienne’s face on it and sinking deep below the murky, fast-moving water.
Much like my phone, I sank to my knees on the dock and started to cry, curse, and immediately get angry over the loss of my phone. Vivienne began to cry because the games she liked to play on the phone were now swimming with the fishes. Literally. I felt sick to my stomach knowing TJ and I are trying to really get ourselves back on track financially only to have something so expensive lost at the hands of carelessness. Reluctantly, I stood up and walked away from the boat and the drink that stole my phone wondering how I would survive without a phone until I could find my old one and reactivate it.
Within a few hours after losing my phone overboard, I felt a little bit freer. While walking the dogs I found that I was actually just enjoying the sunshine and watching them play rather than looking down at Facebook, Instagram, checking work emails, or texting. I found myself taking in the scenery–fully taking it in–for the first time in ages. That night, I went to a wedding and didn’t have my “security blanket” to pull out and look at when I didn’t have anyone to talk to. Losing my iPhone forced me to communicate with others without this device in my hand, dividing my attention.
Sitting in church on Sunday, the compulsion to look down at my phone to see if my husband had sent me a message from where he works in Mexico didn’t wash over me at any point during the service. I worshipped with my whole mind, body, and soul without the pull of technology vying for my attention. Again, I wasn’t distracted by this mini-computer in my purse while talking to other parishioners but instead found myself fully engaged in the conversations without any distraction. I was being a genuine person. And I liked it.
Tonight I went to T-Mobile to see if I could activate an old iPhone some friends had given me. Surprise, surprise, you can’t activate an old AT&T phone on the T-Mobile network. (Maybe this is common knowledge to some, but it was news to me.) While the phones are overpriced, so are the plans and the phone companies that sell them to you. The service representatives asked if I had insurance on my phone (I thought I did) and told me it would be $170 on top of what I still owe for the phone that is gone. Annoyed, I walked out without a phone, vowing to find my old (very broken) T-Mobile iPhone later tonight.
Until the last few days I did not realize just how addicted to my smartphone I’d become. Sometimes, in the quiet of night, I would admit that I had a problem because I could barely go five minutes without looking at it; however, it is so common that I didn’t give it much more thought than that. It wasn’t until I was forcibly removed from my portable technology that I realized one thing:
iPhones are a gift from the Devil, straight out of Silicon Valley Hell.
iPhones can be great tools but more often than not, they are incredible distractions. They distract us from conversations with real people; force us to compare our lives to the lives of others; enslave us to a mini-computer glued to our hands. Guess what else? The distraction it causes, the temptation to sin that it causes so many to do, is being passed on to our children. My 4.5 year old crying because her games were gone, but I am now just about to the point of truly rejoicing that my phone is gone. Don’t get me wrong, the only thing still holding me back is the money aspect. However, the ability to be present–truly present–is a gift these days. It is rare because either one party or both are distracted by technology.
Well, I’ve decided I will be distracted no more. Once I figure out how to navigate the expense of my fish phone, I’ll be purchasing a plain-old dumb phone for regular phone calls and text messages. After walking down the dock yesterday and seeing a friend’s boat on fire with no way to call for help or call them (I did get a neighbor to call), I decided a phone of some sort is actually necessary. However, having a basic phone will continue to pry me away from the addiction that is technology, giving me back time with my family, but it will force me to put up clear boundaries with work. No more work emails or work social media late at night. Work is work, home is home. Time spent with my husband and daughter is time that I can’t get back, so why waste it being divided between my phone and the people I love?
I had the information that said smartphones were bad, addicting, and changing the brains of adults and children forever in a negative manner; but I didn’t have the experience of being without it to gain the knowledge and wisdom necessary to see how truly evil it is. Suddenly being without something that was so intertwined with everything I did every day gave me the wisdom to see just how much power the smartphone had over me and my daughter.
My step-grandpa is 94 years old, when asked what is the greatest thing he has seen in his lifetime his answer is almost shocking:
“…phones with computers you carry in your pocket.”
It wasn’t living through the Great Depression, World War I, or fighting in WWII; it wasn’t any major life event or anything that really changed the course of history…it was the iPhone.
P.S. If anyone local has an old T-Mobile phone they would like to donate to the “Lane-does-need-a-phone-for-basic-phone-calls” cause, please let me know! 😉