I have a love/hate relationship with technology. I LOVE gadgets, new electronics and fun apps. I can’t get enough of them. At any given moment of the day, I’m armed at a minimum with my nifty new smartphone and my iPad. There are times, when I’m working on my laptop, listening to my favorite French radio app on my iPad, while taking FREQUENT breaks to take photos with my phone, or text my friend about some random thought, or post onto Instagram. And, at all waking hours of each day, I wear a Fitbit, which is wireless wifi pedometer (check it out at http://www.fitbit.com/) that synchs with my phone and iPad and sends me encouraging messages to keep me motivated and moving.
So, it’s totally appropriate to describe me as fully hooked up, majorly plugged in and totally in love with my techno gadgets! But every once in while, I feel totally exasperated by my codependent relationship with my cellphone. It feels a little too much sometimes. I mean, the first thing I reach for in the morning when I wake up is my phone. First, I check my personal Facebook page. Then, I take a look at and post my first post of the day onto my public Facebook page. Then, I take a look at Instagram, then Twitter–you get the point. Sometimes I’m on the thing for so long that it starts to radiate heat!! And I HATE this unhealthy codependence. I find myself so attached to it, but also wanting to throw it out the window. And, truthfully, there are times when I feel enslaved to it.
We’ve all gotten into the instant gratification mode these days. We text and expect a response tout suite. Clients and business contacts will inevitably call with a sense of annoyance if more than 15 minutes have gone by without having received a response to their emails. Parents, spouses and loved one worry and threaten to call the cops if their voice mails are not responded to with haste. Is it a wonder that most of us begin to feel naked without being permanently attached to our cellphones?
Last Monday was a day when I felt genuine hate and disgust toward my relationship with my cellphone. I was frustrated by it, but also felt powerless to put it aside and go without for even an hour. “What if today’s the day someone discovers me as a budding author and calls to offer me book deal?” ” What if my husband has a flat tire and texts me for help?” “And whatever will happen to all the notifications about friends’ posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, not to mention Polyvore and Pinterest!?” These were the sort of irrational thoughts I had, as I justified my incessant phone checking and rechecking.
While I grappled with my insignificant problems, I got an breaking news email notification that two bombs had exploded at the famed Boston Marathon. As the day wore on, my phone was my lifeline to the unbelievable events unfolding 3000 miles away from me and my connection to the rest of the world. As my mind spun, trying to make sense of these senseless acts, and my heart broke for the victims of the bombings, my phone kept me informed, allowed me to express my grief and sorrow and helped me feel less alone and isolated.
I thought about all the people in Boston who were caught in the frenzy and the tragedy of the day. I thought of the fearful, the injured, the displaced, the lost, the confused, all reaching out for help and searching for their loved ones. I thought of all the information that was disseminated via Twitter and other social media posted by eye witnesses using their cellphones. And I marveled as the authorities reached out to the public and asked for help by the way of the images and videos witnesses and victims had captured using their phones, tablets and other mobile devices.
And just like that, my faith in my cellphone was renewed. I was reminded that if I find my phone indispensable it’s because in today’s world, cellphones are in fact indispensable. Ours is a modern love affair and, like all relationships, it is neither perfect nor set in stone. Could my relationship with my phone use a few more healthy boundaries? Of course! Could I find ways to separate myself from it in order to be better connected to the non-tech, conventional world? Hell yeah!! But, my phone undoubtedly improves my life, keeps me better informed and helps me reach my health and wealth goals each and every day.
So, with all that in mind, I’ve decided to put my money where my mouth is. I’ve decided to break up with me phone—for a quarter of one day. Just six little hours out a twenty-four-hour period. How bad could it be. Right? Right?
Tomorrow is Earth Day. And I think it’s the perfect day to go cellphone-free. I’m just going to turn my trusty companion off, leave it at home and go out into the big bright world and enjoy it to hilt. I’d be lying if I said I had zero trepidations. But, I think it’s important to challenge myself this way and reconnect to the world in a more organic and old school way. And, well, I’ll have my iPad with me, so it’s not going to be THAT bad. This should be interesting. If this works out, I’m looking forward to breaking up with my iPad, taking a break from Instagram and [gasp] go a full day without Facebook.
Stay tuned as I unplug and celebrate Earth Day the old fashion way.