I am sitting here this afternoon watching a movie when my phone dings. My focus is now split from watching the movie I am into and wondering what wonderful mystery could await behind that black iPhone screen.The phone can wait.
Seconds go by like minutes, until the phone dings again. I am excited to find out what is so important that my phone must shout to the world.
I give in, I pick up my phone to find out that it is just some routine workflow alerts from our SharePoint portal at work. I close the folio cover on my phone and resume watching the movie.
Minutes and another audible break in my connection with the movie. My thoughts shift back from the movie, back to the phone. The anticipation consumes me as I give into my precious electronic world to see what is going on again. Someone is challenging me to a game of True False, I got this.
I begin playing the game, oblivious that there is a movie going on. After answering a few questions, taking control of the board and answering a few more, I lock the screen and put it back down. I look back to the movie, now I am 5 minutes in and not even sure what is going on. One of the characters is married and has all these new kids, I’m not even sure how that happened. The phone dings again.
The first smartphone that I ever had was as company issued Palm Treo 650 back sometime around 2003. That device had a stylus and a handful of built in apps. There was no fancy app store, nor any games. I simply used it to read my corporate email and receive server alerts. These phones were nothing like the mobile computing environments that we have today.
From the very first smart phone that I had, I often find myself checking it for new content. Now, as the they have progressed feature wise, I am checking it often not only for work, but for messaging, games and even keeping up with social network feeds.
I am shy. Some may call this “being introverted”. The truth about being introverted is that there is a popular misconception that it means people are withdrawn or shy. Being introverted means, I draw my energy from within instead of off of other people like extroverts do. As a result, it would not be unusual for me to awkwardly put my face in my phone instead of socializing with others. Thankfully, my wife is good at keeping our company entertained for the both of us.
My phone gets to be too much. The story I posted above, actually happened to me today. I start getting into these ruts with my phone where the apps I have installed on my phone are owning my time. I can admit that sometimes I get carried away when the games call for my attention. Thankfully, I begin to realize this and uninstall the game.
Social networking gets pretty bad as well. The more friends that I make, the more content that gets pushed through my feed to look at. This draws me in to look at my phone before it makes any sort of noise. I have had to train myself to stop trying to keep up with every tweet and Instagram picture that gets posted.
Unfortunate part of being in information technology and having the company pay for the phone is that my company has a digital leash on me. There is an unwritten expectation that if they are paying for the phone, it is my duty to be ready to answer the emails or phone calls that come through on a moment’s notice. This is how people end up working most of their waking lives, by maintaining their inbox and answering emails all throughout the day.
My kids are teenagers, and I have the foresight not to buy them cell phones for this reason. We had our niece here over the summer and we practically had to take the phone away from her from spending so much time on it. We are hooked into these machines much like a free-form Matrix simulation.
There will come a day, when I no longer work at my current job and I will toss my phone into the fiery depths of Mordor so it no longer has power over my life. That day when I no longer have my precious, I will be free from this old ball and chain. For the time being, I am going to remove the non-important time eating apps and plan towards getting out of the rat race.
How about you, do you feel as if your phone rules your life and dictates your actions? What have you done about it?
Flickr image by Peter Clark