Welcome to my blog, aka my place to comment and reflect on things I find inspiring, amusing, irritating, or baffling. When I was young, my Stanford PhD, former physics professor, software engineer father used to help me with my math homework, and I, being mentally deficient in all things math, could never quite get it. He would constantly say to me, "Jill, it's not rocket science." (Did I mention the PhD was in Aeronautics and Astronautics??) So I thought it would be an appropriate title for this blog because everything I write about is, indeed, not rocket science.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

My Phone Addiction

Last night I picked-up dinner for take-out, and I sat at a table waiting for my food, playing with my phone. Then I thought, when was the last time I just sat and waited for something, without playing with my phone? Probably since before I had a smart phone. And I call it "playing" because I'm certainly not doing any work, and all I'm doing is entertaining myself while I'm waiting. The thing is so damn addictive. And it's not the phone itself that's addictive because no one talks on the phone anymore, it's the things on it - the apps, Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, etc. They call to you: "Play with me! Check me! You know you want to!" You can be waiting for your food order, waiting in line at the grocery store, waiting for a friend, and without thinking, you just grab your phone and check e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, or whatever else you check on your phone. Because God forbid that you just sit there and wait. 

Even sillier (and sadder), we play on our phones (or iPads) while watching TV. So we have TWO forms of entertainment going at the same time because this one show just isn't doing it for us. Our addiction consumes us and we think, "I need to check Facebook/Twitter/e-mail because what if someone posted/e-mailed something in the 3 minutes since I last checked??? I have to stay on top of it!" And what exactly are we staying on top of? Others' lame Facebook posts? Inane commentary about the Olympics or other current events? An e-mail from Groupon? Nothing that enriches our lives in any way. 

This constant need to "be on top of it" is overwhelming and causes undue stress. (My friend just informed me that there is a term for this: FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out. I don't watch The Kardashians, thus did not know this term until today.) What is this new need for constant entertainment and interaction? This is a relatively new phenomenon because 7 years ago we had boring, traditional phones that we used simply to talk and text, and we didn't feel compelled to play with them all the time. It's kind of sad that we're so accustomed to this constant stimulation that we don't know what to do with ourselves during those quiet moments. Even sadder that this addiction causes thousands of accidents and deaths every year, due to distracted driving.

Why are we creating more stress for ourselves? It's really nice to go on vacation where you don't have service and after a couple of days, you realize you don't give a damn about what's going on on Facebook. Or e-mail. Or whatever. The more disconnected I am, the better I feel. More relaxed. More zen. Then I go back to work and get re-consumed. I need to find a happy medium. And I don't even think I'm one of the worst addicts, either. On a scale of 1 to 10, if 1 means you don't own a cell phone and 10 means your phone is an extension of your arm, I'm probably a 6 or 7. Some people cannot be without their phone in their hand for 5 minutes. 

I'm going to do an experiment and for one week (or maybe a couple days, we'll see how it goes), I'll only use my phone when "necessary." By necessary, I mean I'll make/answer phone calls, write/respond to texts, check e-mail if I'm expecting a specific one, and possibly play Words with Friends (I can't keep my friends waiting!). But if I'm just playing with my phone for the hell of it, then I'll see what it's like to just chill. And be silent. And think. Maybe I'll feel less overwhelmed? Calmer? More zen? The goal is not to stop using my phone but to be less dependent on it for entertainment and less consumed by the FOMO. We'll see how I do.

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