I avoided the smartphone for as long as I could. As my friends worked their way from iPhones 1 to 5, I held on to my dumb-phone. I didn’t take a high road hipster stance about purity or blah, blah, blah. I just saw the smartphoners crouched in coffee shops engaging with their phones instead of engaging with their surroundings, and I thought, If I own one of those, that’s going to be me.
I’m an obsessive, addictive person. If I like something, be it an album or an author or — in my college days — dank hydro, I want to engage in it. All the time. I’m an all-or-nothing person.
In my days with the band This Way, I spent some time on the road, where smartphones are a necessity. From finding a venue, a hotel, a restaurant, or updating a Facebook to let people know you’re coming to town, smartphones make everything easier. So I annoyed bandmates, asking, “Hey, man, can I use your phone.”
The obligatory response was, “Yeah, but why don’t you just get one?”
I’d say, “I’m too cheap to pay for the plan.” But then I’d look at my dumb-phone and think, I don’t think it would be good for me. I’m innately cheap, so my bandmates were satisfied with my response, though a little perturbed.
This blog and my writing career in general were the impetus for getting a smartphone (that’s why I’ve tenuously labeled this ‘Fiction’). I wanted to be able to snap pictures for the blog and drop them into a post, update Twitter, Facebook, and other social media easily. An agent told me that that kind of thing matters to publishers. You need to have an online presence these days, so they say.
So I bought a smartphone.
And true to form, that little mother is addicting. Before I figured out how to stifle the updates, it updated me about everything. I swear, if my father sneezed in Florida, I got an update. And I engaged with every one. My third cousin’s daughter just ate her first piece of watermellon? Great!
Nosce te ipsum, right? Well, I didn’t know myself. Or, I did, I just let myself fall into the smartphone abyss I feared.
When I was watching a sunset, did I think deep existential thoughts? Hell no, I took a picture of it, and then worried over whether or not the photo was good enough to post to Facebook.
At dinner with my wife, I checked baseball scores, Googled something I meant to earlier, checked the number of views my blog had that day, or looked at what the weather was going to be like for the next thirty-six hours.
Why? Was it because I was going to become a better human being if I did these things? Nope. I did it because I could.
Anna says, “You’re always on that phone.”
And I look at her like Gollum fondling his precious, and say, “It’s mine! Mine!”
I’m working on breaking the addiction to my smartphone. Holding back the temptation to take another picture of my dog. (It’s tough though. Anyone who’s met Japhy the Wonder Dog knows this.) Resisting the urge to see if anyone has liked a Facebook post. Not checking my email just because I can.
I’m fighting the anxiety it’s brought into my life. But it’s a slow road to freedom. One day at a time, man. One. Day. At. A. Time.