Tired of hearing about the Coronavirus? Tired of hearing about my smartphone dilemma? With the National Day of Unplugging ending last weekend, I’m ready to close my Diary of Dates with a Smartphone — at least for another 11 months. So, before I get too heady with spring, here’s the last few entries (continued from March 8th…):
March 9, 2020 – Getting Smart with the Smartphone
Although a self-proclaimed Neo-Luddite, I am open-minded. Sounds like an oxymoron, I know — at least until you understand my perspective. Like the Tao’s Taijitu, nothing is 100% positive or negative, good or bad, black or white, all or nothing.
I’m receptive to smartphone lovers who state their phone is a helpful tool in life; that they can control their device. These smart users view their phones as mini portable computers. That simple psychological switch in terminology generates a slightly friendlier feeling toward my Pixel 3XL. After all, I don’t want the phone telling me what to do.
A carpenter friend barely contains his grin while telling me how he uses his smartphone. “After installing a dishwasher in a customer’s house, I sent them a photo with the bill on my smartphone. Within minutes they wired money back to my account.”
That IS an awesome capability. I get it. Yet, that same tradesman refuses any temptation to use his phone while socializing. He leaves it in his truck. Sounds smart to me, and considerate.
March 10, 2020 – Something IS Wrong with this Picture and it’s Not the Camera
Seeing the masses blindly tethered to smartphones and not interacting with each other in person alarms me. While the numbers* and terminology vary, smartphone addiction or problematic use IS valid. I often say don’t jump in if you don’t want to jump out. Similarly, why would I try heroin knowing it’s addictive?
*Almost 21 million Americans have at least one addiction; two million are to prescription opioids. The availability of addictive sources baffles me. Until I follow the money.
A friend in AA recovery tells me, “Most coming to Twelve Step meetings these days are heroin addicts. I see them glued to their phones, scrolling, scrolling, during the meeting…not paying attention to the speaker.”
How effective is that? “Does it mean they are doubly-addicted?”
“Well, I see it as disrespectful for one thing.”
He says current day addicts revolve through the rehab’s door. “It’s big business today. And the users wear it like a badge saying they’ve been through rehab 10-15-20 or more times…”
March 11, 2010 – If smartphones are so smart, why didn’t they learn any manners?
Signs posted at the bank and dairy store request cell users to converse outside. Sad that they have to tell people this, but at least they do. (Personally, my HSP characteristic would banish blaring TVs from waiting rooms — particularly doctor’s offices — as I find quietly reading more calm and healing.)
Yes, I admit, I’ve glared at someone loudly conversing on their phone in a medical office because I couldn’t concentrate. But, I haven’t glared at the driver sitting next to me at the red light who presumes I also want to hear their BOOM – BOOM – BOOM bass that is vibrating their car (and mine). No need for road rage, you know.
Unabashed concert attendees blind everyone else while holding up smartphones to record — or even watch — the live stage performance. Why not just stay home if they want to watch it on a screen? Didn’t I buy a ticket too to view the live performance?
A kindergartner on a smartphone at the school bus stop was asked, “What color is the sky?”
The child responded, “I don’t know.” (And didn’t bother to ask Google.)
March 12, 2020 – Slippery Slopes
A Neo-Luddite country store owner relates her recent experience to me. “When I walked into a church meeting everyone was looking down at their smartphones. I asked them, ‘Do you realize a shooter could have come in and taken all of you out — that quickly?’ For a minute they looked dumbfounded…then returned to their screens.”
Feeling that chilly possibility, we acquiesce that all of us have a hand in this. From parents entertaining their toddlers with smartphones while glued to their own device, to us not (politely) commenting to store clerks interacting more with their phones than customers. Groaning together, we ponder a future ruled by a brainwashed techno culture.
“So, where do we go?” I asked.
Shrugging, then gesturing to her right she offered, “The Amish community down the road…?”
If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.
March 13, 2020 – No Voice, No Choice
Rants about global human issues pervade the web but common consideration in close proximity is missing. I must remind myself to let it begin with me in saying what I mean, meaning what I say and not saying it mean. That goes for glaring too. If we can’t practice common courtesy on the local level, how will we ever get to global…much less world peace?
Awareness is the first step to change because we can’t make a change unless we are aware that one needs to be made in the first place. We can then begin understanding why we are doing what we are doing.
What’s so Great about a Smartphone
Oh, I did say I’d include the yang side of smartphones, didn’t I? Well, here are 20 qualities that smart users shared which I’ll admit are attractive:
- International friends (communicate for free and freely)
- Traffic information
- News source
- Tell time
- Track packages
- Text friends (although I’m concerned about eradicating the human voice)
- Search restaurants
- Learn information
- Watch movies
- Music device
- Instant communication (not wait to get home for laptop)
- Numerous features, all in one place
March 14, 2020 – Eggs in a Basket
That last attribute reminds me of the old adage “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” which, in modern times, means “don’t put your life on your smartphone.”
My walking partner called in a panic. “You’ll never believe what happened to my son today. He’s sick about it.”
“What? You don’t sound so good.”
“He was standing on the dock at the lake when his smartphone fell in. He had everything on it. And I mean EVERYTHING. His personal contacts…but worse, ALL of his business information.
“Oh no! What’s he going to do?”
“He called a skin diver. The guy tried three times. But, it’s gone. Everything’s gone. He lost his orders, billing, suppliers, payroll…”
“Doesn’t he have that at the shop?”
“It wasn’t backed up yet to the new system.”
We both felt sick but not as sick as her son did. I do not understand this risk to reward ratio. Why would I hand over my life to a one-stop shop device with loitering hackers? It’s enough warding them off my PC — must I do battle on all tech fronts?
March 15, 2020 – Retraining and Playing Games
In revealing my precarious initiation with a smartphone, I’ve discovered through reviews that my Pixel may actually be faulty (repair diagnosis pending).
Smart users say they don’t do everything possible on their device, using it only for necessities. That scenario could possibly work for me — at least after it’s repaired or I get more educated. (Long, exasperated sigh.) Having to take time to learn something that was once simple — like using a phone — is a pebble in my shoe. But, by renaming the smart phone to mini portable computer, I’m more willing to get educated on a mini portable computer. No matter what, though, it has to stop bombarding me with things I don’t want or need!
Who’s Doing the Thinking?
Now, for the yin side. If you’re unaware of the dark side of smartphones, don’t ask Alexa or Google. Ask yourself, honestly, if any of these ring true for you:
- Feeling impatient, fretful, angry, tense, irritated, depressed or restless when not with the smartphone, or when the cell phone network or battery is low.*
- Thinking about the smartphone even when not using it
- Giving the cell phone more time and attention than relationships*
- Lacking interest in other activities and hesitating to interact with people
- Missing work due to smartphone use
- Low concentration or productivity due to smartphone use
- Digital eye strains and discomfort from extended periods viewing a screen*
- Wrist, neck or back pain or problems due to excessive cell phone use*
- Constantly checking the smartphone for fear of missing conversations on social media such as Twitter or Facebook
- Memory decline
- Using a smartphone for more time than intended*
- Others notice you are using a smartphone too much
- Refusing to give up using a smartphone even when daily life is adversely affected by it
- Inability to be without a smartphone*
Outsmarting the Smartphone
*I confess to these offenses when using my PC or the internet. Personal experience burgeoned my Neo-Luddism like the reformed smoker touting the evils of their former addiction. (I am a long ago reformed smoker who can’t have just one.)
My sincere aspiration is for people to stop and think. Consciously think — for themselves about their lives, their values, and relationships, rather than mindlessly be distracted with the superficial glories of advanced technology. If I add another layer of electronic distraction, what time will be left for the garden, hand drumming, reading books, cooking and sharing with people I love?
Many addicts assume it will happen to someone else but not them. Shakespeare knew what he was talking about when he said, “To thine own self be true.” That’s best accomplished by getting quiet, away from distractions. If you fidget in silence, try walking outside (without the device) for 15 minutes a day. Then listen. Really listen — to nature, your surrounds, but most importantly that voice of truth within your self that is probably begging to be heard.