Phone Troubles

Hi. My name is Dave and I am addicted to my smart phone.

We all are though, I think, to one degree or another. Most people either don’t notice or don’t really care because it’s a willful addiction.

True, we all need to stay connected, and there are many apps and features that do make communication faster and easier, and can certainly add to the quality of our lives. The fact that we carry computers in our pockets is a small miracle that we seem to take for granted in today’s world. Everything from entertainment to shopping to business meetings, or just a quick check in at home, and more, can be accomplished within seconds anywhere we are. That is undeniably cool. It is also incredibly useful and there is nothing wrong with any of that in and of itself.

If it is all kept in balance.

That’s the tricky part. When does the smart phone stop being a tool or a pleasant diversion and start becoming more? When is more too much? That is not an easy question to answer if we’re honest, and each one of us will have a different response. You may be perfectly comfortable with your phone usage. Perhaps you are a tech person and this stuff is fascinating for you academically. Perhaps you have the ability to look at your phone only two or three times a day in ten minute increments and set it down easily to do other things. Maybe it’s just a part of your life that you have integrated and don’t even think twice about. I don’t claim to know your situation or have any answers or advice to give to anyone else at all.

But as for me? I have crossed the line and hit the wall.

I feel absolutely tethered to my phone. Once I pick it up it’s all I can do to set the thing down. I’m playing with my phone as I watch television. I check it at the movies. During meals. On dates with my wife. It’s the first thing I do when I wake up and the last thing before I go to bed. I can’t even read more than two or three pages in a book without stopping to play with my phone. I feel like I am constantly scrolling, scrolling, scrolling. I even get online on my phone while I am online at the computer. It’s too much for me-I have to stop.

So how did I reach this conclusion? I don’t know. Maybe it’s just because I am old enough to remember what life was like before phones and I am growing nostalgic. Maybe it’s because I was never a tech guy and now I can’t be without it, and that concerns me. Maybe I feel like I’m missing out on other more productive things I could be doing instead of just doom scrolling all the time.

One thing’s for sure though. It has been proven that phone usage can release dopamine (sometimes referred to as the pleasure chemical) in our brains. Dopamine makes you feel good. Really good. Once this happens enough the brain recognizes a pattern and begins to equate the two things. Then, the brain begins to chase that feeling as much as possible and pretty soon you’ve got a habit, man. That’s how addiction works. That’s what’s happening to me, I am constantly chasing the “phone high” and I need to quit.

So it’s time for a detox. A digital detox. I’m not throwing my phone into the river or anything like that, but I am going to be changing things up in here. Today I removed or deactivated all the social media accounts from my phone, along with as many ways as possible for me to surf the net (though I can’t disable it completely-not an option on my phone). I also got rid of any apps that give me multiple notifications a day that I don’t deem as essential, I already feel lighter in spirit. This is step one.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I still have my social media accounts. I will still check them and make updates but I’m going to be doing it by the computer, or possibly a tablet, at controlled hours of the day. Same thing goes with surfing the net. It will be more intentional, something I have to carve out time for instead of being at it any chance I get. So I’m sorry if I miss your cool post or don’t update like you’re used to seeing me do, but I’m getting my balance back, and that’s very important to me right now.

And again, I am not about to get rid of my phone. Certainly I need to stay in touch with family, work, and friends. I keep my calendar on my phone, my alarm clock, maps, an underused Bible app (sorry Jesus), a few notes I need to remember and more than one fast food ordering app. All necessary stuff. I just need the phone to go back to being a tool and not an obsession.

So I’m going to try this system for the next few weeks and make sure I can live with this arrangement and stick to it. Then, hopefully, it’s on to step two. I am going to need a new phone sooner than later. The screen has a pretty decent crack in it, and I am having problems getting the phone to take a charge. Not stay charged, but actually take a charge. That could be a battery issue, I suppose, but a new phone may be in order down the road.

I have been investigating different phone types. There are a few “minimalist” phones out there that do just the basics. You can find them online, like the Light phone, Mudita Pure, Wisephone, etc. None of these phones have the internet on them. They all have talk and text. Most have an alarm function, but then it gets all hazy. Some play music, some don’t. Some have calendars, some don’t. One has a flashlight but no maps, only one of the three has a camera (which holds about 6 photos). Most have group texting but not MMS. These are high quality, intentionally made phones with low carbon rates and low radiation and are fairly well thought out from a presentation point of view, they are just falling a little short when it comes to the packaging. Although they are better across the board than the Jitterbug/Lively phones made for Seniors.

It turns out though, that there are plenty of non internet phones out there that have pretty much everything else you could need, it’s just that many of them are kind of chintzy and still do a little more than I would like. But…IF I can keep up this way of living, and IF I decide a new phone is the way to go then I may temporarily buy one of these cheapos until the “minimalist” phone start up companies get it all straightened out.

To be clear, I am no minimalist-I still want all the things. However, this may be the way to go for me from here on out.

Then again, maybe I’ll be shaking my head a month from now wondering where in the world I got the cockamamie idea that I was addicted to the phone. Anything can happen I suppose.

Still, I’m pretty sure I’m right on this one. I don’t expect to start a movement here or for anyone else to come along with me, but I do think we should all take a look at how far our phones have gotten into our lives. We are constantly told by the major carriers and phone companies that we need the newest, fastest, biggest, and greatest phones we can get hold of.

Do we?

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