But especially now, as my finger is itching on the “buy” button of the iPhone 5, I often think it’s true.
We are addicted.
Okay, I am addicted. And I’m not the only one.
At the movies the other day–and it was the snooty theater where a real person actually shakes a real-live finger at you about your cell phone—several people had distracting glowing lights in their laps during the movie.
We are expected to be available at all times from everywhere. Bosses want answers at all times of the day or night. And there is no such thing as ‘family time.’ I visited a gym recently and the sales guy there texted me for weeks even though I told him I live too far away to join. At this very moment, in fact, I’m getting texts from AT&T asking me how their service was on a live chat yesterday. “It was awful! And you’re making it worse by annoying me.”
Kids, especially, don’t know how to communicate directly absent a device. Louis CK has a great bit on Conan O’Brian about why he won’t get his kids phones, how smartphones separate us from emotions. It is so much easier to have our fingers DO something…check stock prices, play a game, text 50 people, yell at subordinates…than to simply BE lonely or sad or even, simply, to be alone.
It’s easy to ask someone out or to break up with someone by text…but is breaking up really supposed to be easy?
“Real Men Talk, they don’t text,” is a good CNN piece on the topic. Bela Gandhi of Smart Dating Academy says, “Relying on texting to build a relationship is a recipe for miscommunication, and premature intimacy.”
Phones get in the way of mature intimacy as well. When my many-decade marriage started to go sideways, I cooked up a ‘marriage improvement plan’ to try to get things on track. Far and away the most contentious feature was a limitation on technology. Phone-free mealtimes and one day a week sans technology, created tremendous resentment, which of course defeated the whole purpose. Won’t say that phones ruined my marriage. Will say they sure didn’t help preserve it.
Smart phones can certainly help us to be ‘efficient.’ But does everyone need to be efficient all the time? What about just kind? Or engaged?
Or, simply, being present?
Being a passenger in a car is not just ‘dead time’ for checking email, but rather time to reconnect with your friend, the driver….who we are absolutely sure is NOT going to be texting.
Tried a new tact with AT&T folk just now. Told them:
PLEASE STOP TEXTING ME.
And they did.