We have all witnessed the Rise of the Machines, and no, they don’t involve human tissue over a mechanical endoskeleton: it’s The Smartphone.
Two weeks ago I revolted and joined the human resistance, ditching my iPhone 4S forever. What was the main problem? I enjoyed using it way too much, and it was affecting me and my family in ways I wasn’t at all happy with.
According to this 2012 CNET article, I was in very good company:
58% of smartphone users don’t go more than one hour without checking their phones
54% of users check their phones in bed
One in three check their phones during meals
73% feel panic when they misplace their phones
7% feel sick when they misplace their phones
The Villain In This Story Isn’t The Terminator, it’s Nomophobia
The dependency on smartphones has become so deep, it actually has a name: Nomophobia, which is defined as “the fear of being out of mobile phone contact.” Apparently, the addiction is so strong that most smartphone users don’t even use the washroom without one.
My wife and I had initially gotten off the smartphone bandwagon about two years ago when we noticed that we were talking less and less after getting Blackberry Bold 9700’s. The devices made appearances at dinner, at family outings, on vacation and in all honesty added virtually nothing worthwhile to our lives. I didn’t get any promotions for how connected I was, but I certainly got the stink-eye for checking my smartphone at inappropriate times.
We both recognized our phones were a problem, and quit cold-turkey, and it was great.
"I Thought I Could Have it In The House and Not Drink It"
One of the worst decisions I’ve made over the past 18 months was giving in (somewhat willingly) to getting a new iPhone 4S. It was covered by the organization I was working for, and every last person there had a cellphone.
I had initially asked if I could avoid having a phone… a request which was (understandably) met with stunned silence. I conceded, somewhat happily, that the phone would help me with my productivity. After many conversations with my wife about this, we decided that it would be helpful for my commute on the bus, and that there would be a strict no-use policy around the house. In hindsight, it’s like an alcoholic saying “I thought I could have it in the house, and not drink it.”
The iPhone Was Terrible For Productivity
According to this Business Insider article, the top selling iPhone Apps of all time start with Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja and Doodle Jump. Those three names and a cursory look at the Top 25 List gives you a pretty good indication of how iPhones are typically used. In case you’re wondering, none of them had anything to do with Word Processing, Spreadsheets or Project Management.
What were my vices? Yahoo Fantasy Football, Audible, Houzz and Facebook. The worst, by far, was Fantasy Football. I was checking at dinner, when friends were over, at work, and even once while crossing the street.
I found I would fire up my iPhone with the best of intentions, but inevitably get sucked into a meaningless conversation on Facebook, or deciding whether I should dress Philip Rivers or Russell Wilson for Week 14.
Do It For the Children!
It’s somewhat easy to continue with bad habits if you think they only affect you. Smoking is a great example of this. Initial anti-smoking campaigns primarily focused on the negative health benefits of smoking on the smoker, and had virtually no effect. It wasn’t until the ads started touting the disastrous effects of second-hand smoke that people began quitting in droves. Essentially, smokers realized how bad their habit was for their kids, and stopped.
I have three really young children (our oldest, Ethan, just turned four), and my attitude really started to change when quitting the smartphone was very obviously the best thing for them. NPR put out a piece about children’s behaviour and Smartphone usage that really bothered me. Essentially, it found that children acted out to get their parent’s attention in an attempt to compete with the phone. As soon as my wife and I read this, we realized we had been seeing this trend in our kids.
Hasta la Vista iPhone: Time To Start Living
In the span of two weeks my wife and I got rid of the iPhone, sold our LED TV, got rid of two laptops, and our iPad - and made a conscious decision to live more. We are a one-screen family - the iMac I'm writing this on. Thomas the Tank Engine has taken the place of Fantasy Football, and Coffee chats with my wife have taken the place of Facebook updates… and it’s been glorious.
Are you ready to join the resistance?