Smartphone Usage

Key in my passcode, check for notifications, access my 3 email accounts, open Facebook, Instagram, read my newsfeed, twitter (stupid tweets), Nextdoor, LinkedIn, and every five minutes check them all again—addicted!!smartphone cartoon

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of smartphones.  I love getting reminders for friend’s and family’s: birthdays, anniversaries, or special occasions.  Instant news is great, GPS to get from A to B, my credit card notifications rock, great camera, a way to reconnect with friends and family, follow grandkids lives–both victories and TMI, weather and police alerts, and communication from anywhere with text and phone—amazing tech, but there is a downside.

There’s the distracted while driving/walking thing, total rudeness by ignoring those around you, wasting a big slice of your life, depression from constant stream of bad news and stupid tweets, and “like” envy.

The more time we spend staring at our phones, the more negative crap we view.  And we reinforce our right or left views choosing Hannity or Colbert.  I have a diverse group of friends, so I witness the full spectrum of opinions and often follow or participate in one of those no-win political debates which usually end in some of my fact-challenged friends being shredded—OUCH!

The smartphone is an amazing technological tool but staring at that small screen shouldn’t take over your life.  I experimented (cold turkey) with a smartphone diet.

I cleansed myself for a day by limiting my smartphone usage of social media, news, and apps to once in the morning, noon and evening.  It’s a whole lot easier than giving up smoking or cutting back on sugar and at the end of the day my battery was still at 80%.  My diet crashed the next day as I waited in the eye-doctor’s office.  I keyed in my passcode, connected to free WiFi and entertained myself instead of freaking-out about the usual overly-long wait for my examination (another FUBAR subject).

This experiment forced me to look at my beloved iPhone time and I concluded that the associated problems with overusing smartphones are more about the user than the phone and totally restricting use doesn’t work.  You can be one of “those guys” who constantly talks/text when driving, conducts self-important phone business in the middle of a captive airport gate, or doesn’t turn off your phone at a show OR you can come back from the dark side by being a considerate user.

I do waste some time on my phone but overall, I have pretty good phone etiquette.  Accessing my home security cameras when traveling or receiving a text signed with a heart from a grandkid is part of the smartphone magic.  I’ve realized that the reason we’re always on our phones is because they have changed all our lives, mostly for the good, and we just must figure out a balance between obsession and a sensible use of an amazing entertainment, communication, anything-you-need tool.  Just need a “rude” app to turn off some of those “other guys” phones.