i'M thinking of leaving my i-Phone, and here's why:
A year and a half ago, I had a phone that was the cellular equivalent of a tin can and a string. It didn't allow me to text my husband with hilarious Japanese emoticons or receive business (or junk) emails, didn't entertain me with selections from my 16,000 iTunes librabry while giving me a (too) accurate GPS and Nike summary of my running routes, didn't allow me to snap photos of everything from my newborn niece (worthy) to suspicious looking rashes on my kids to text to my nurse friend.
The old phone? My kids wanted NOTHING to do with it--it didn't have Cut the Rope, Angry Birds, Plants vs Zombies or their latest obsession, Dragon Vale. I couldn't play Scrabble on it while killing time at car pick-up or check the news feed of Facebook. The only way it helped me navigate when I was lost was for me to call someone and ask them to look up my cross-streets on Mapquest and talk me out of my pickle. On my old phone, when I was waiting at a particularly long red light, I was never tempted to google the lyrics to 'Party in the USA'. (Incidentally, that second line is not "Welcome to the land of famous sex, am I going to fit in?")
Back then, I could be counted on to have my old phone with me 40% of the time and there was maybe a 10% chance that if I had it with me, it would actually be charged.
And then my book sold, and I planned my twelve city book tour, and I was receiving emails that I wanted to read, from agents and editors and publicists. I wanted to respond quickly and professionally, and I didn't like that the first thing I did when walking in our front door was quickly dash to the computer to check my email. I hated the way that since starting on my journey to publication and okay, joining Facebook, I had started checking it first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I left my laptop open on the kitchen counter with the volume turned up so I could immediately answer emails. When I sensed family resentment (read: kids hanging off my arms as I tried to type a reply) to the amount of time I spent in front of the screen, I moved my computer to the top floor of our house, so that I would have to run up the stairs to check my email.
But with the new gig, the writing career, I decided to transport my technological self into the twenty-first century. Giddy, I bought an iPhone last August. Since then, I have been reachable and connected. I wear it when I run, when I walk my daughter to preschool and I sleep with it on my pillow, and check my Google alerts and website stats and 20% offers from Snapfish when they ding at 3 am. I even typed a very jiggly response to secure a bookstore appearance WHILE jogging, looking down at my screen instead of the towering oak trees and flowing river beside me.
J and I both work from home. We need to have intelligent phones that connect us to the world. We say we would be genuises and able to retire if we could develop an app that only made your phone alert when you received a business-related email that was going to make you money--different from the *ping* that announces it is the LAST DAY FOR 20% OFF AT LUCKY JEANS EVER! (again)
The other night we watched a documentary about the eighty hour American workweek and electronic multi-tasking, and the image that stuck with me was the husband and wife on the couch, watching TV, with their laptops on while they work from home at 9:30 at night, texting each other on smart phones from twenty inches away. It reminded me of the horror of futuristic movie Wall-E, where the two blubbery men sit side-by-side in their hover-chairs, drinking their cupcake in a cup and talking to projected images of each other on screens. One suggests apathetically a round of 'virtual golf'.
I love my iPhone and I want to be connected, but I'm starting to wonder... is this who I want to be? I have email and texting and Twitter and Facebook apps and I am connected, to the outside world. But I wonder, is this world that I really want to connect to, when the people in my home get this:
How do you manage your screen time?