Electric Nags

I finally gave up my flip phone a month ago.  It was a kind of sad decision for me. I really didn’t want a smart phone but everyone else had moved on.  Contrary to what some people believe, I try not to pile on the eccentricities.  What could I do? the old flip phone had sticky buttons making it almost impossible to dial numbers and when I opened it the screen was occasionally dim. The smart phones are not much more expensive now, so I figured I’d cave in and get one.

I lasted about three days in full smartphone mode. Every few seconds there would be a notification from social media sites, a text message,  or a nagging green owl. None of it was pressing, and none really required my attention.  And yet my time kept slipping away. In all of my phone time I didn’t really talk to anyone.

So I turned it off, and, for that matter, I turned my notifications off. In my flip phone days my phone was off maybe a third of the time, and now it is off more than half.  I really only turn it on to text my friends which I do more than I like to admit.

I’m not sure what it is that I am always supposed to be plugged in for. If you send me a work email at 2:00 am on Saturday, expect a reply on Monday morning.  If it is pressing life or death, I will get back to you soon, if not, live your life, I’ll be living mine.

We often hear that the convenience of cell phones is ruining our lives, but it isn’t really a convenience at all — it’s a hassle. It’s one more gadget that breaks down the separation between home and work, and between sleeping and not sleeping.  I’d rather just do what I want to while I am doing it.  The owl can go nag somebody else.


On Watches

For the first few years that I had a cellphone I didn’t wear a watch.  I didn’t make any kind on conscious decision about it. I just stopped.  But a year or two ago I decided to wear one again.  It was a practical decision: it is much easier to discreetly look at a watch than it is to pull a phone out of one’s pocket and hit the button to see the time.  At first I had only planned on wearing it to work.

The more I wore one, however, the more I got to like it.  I bought a new watch — nothing fancy, a big round face with clear numbers and solid easy-to-see hands — and ever since the new watch has been an instrument of liberation.  The phone isn’t a tool of communication anymore.  It is just a gew-gaw to stare at.  I look at my phone less now.  I turn it off more often.  When I think that I can get away with it, I leave it at home. My watch weighs about the same as my cellphone, but it is teaching me the joys of being unencumbered.