I broke up with my phone.
I’ve loved her for a long time, and I’ve broken up with her before. I’ll probably have to break up with her again, even though this time feels very final (they usually do). She is a very demanding (and cunning) little companion so I’m sure she’ll insinuate herself back into my life at some point.
I realized something interesting a couple months ago: when my phone is on, I’m irritable. I’m checking it constantly, responding to its dings and chimes (or, if I’ve tried turning them off, I’m checking the screen repeatedly). Since I stay at home with my boys, both of whom interrupt me at the rate of seven times per second, I feel continuously torn between multiple attention-demanders. This makes me really edgy, because I cannot pay attention to two things at once, as much as I want to. And mostly I don’t want to.
Also, when I’m writing, I interrupt myself to check my phone whether the ringer is off or not; sometimes this is necessary, like when I have a babysitter and I need to check texts in case she needs something for one of my kids. But mostly, it’s not necessary. My phone becomes an enemy of my creativity, because it sucks all my mental energy away from whatever it is I want to do. It’s literally a drain.
I can’t even use the Do Not Disturb setting on my iPhone because, if it’s on, I will check it and check it and check it. I don’t like this about myself. And it makes me sad to see everyone–everywhere–doing exactly the same thing.
So I’ve begun turning off my phone for portions of the day…I keep it off in the morning, a good bit of the afternoon, and in the evening after my kids are in bed. I can’t describe the sense of peace I feel when it’s off, except to say that I didn’t even realize how it created a low-level, continuous state of agitation to keep checking checking checking.
It’s weird to suddenly give myself the gift of this freedom: the freedom to pay attention to my kids, to pay attention to my writing, to pay attention to the book I’m reading. It feels heavenly. It also seems crazy that I grew up this way, without the constant lure and pull of cell phones, but that’s another topic for another day.
So here’s to breaking up with my phone. Like I said, I’ll probably have to do it again, and I’m not perfect at it every day, but I AM better. It feels good to just turn that sucker off and pretend, for a little while, that it doesn’t own me.