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iThinkICan, iThinkICan

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Addicted to my iPhone, by WhiskerPrints on Etsy

Let’s talk about something near and dear to my heart. My iPhone.

The story starts many moons ago, when my old candy bar cell phone died and I lived without one for 5 months.

I’ll admit it, I was smug during these five months. I bragged about how free I felt, I truly enjoyed the feeling of being unreachable. We still had a house phone at that point (You remember those, right? They connected to phone lines through a wire in the wall? And they only made phone calls? That’s it?).I loved being able to say, “You can reach me at work and you can reach me at home, but if I’m out then I’m out! I don’t need to be in touch all the time.”

Oh my gosh I was so cute, and so clueless, acting like being in touch all the time was not the most essential thing in the world. Like being able to text and facetime and check twitter and facebook and the need to refresh refresh refreshrefreshrefreshREFRESH, would not one day be as essential to me as air, or goat cheese, or potassium.

Then Adam, proud owner of the then-fancy iPhone 3 (how quaint it all seems now, with its rounded edges and rear facing camera), went to go get the new iPhone. The 4! It was time to renew his contract, and he embarked on that most-hated of first-world tasks, haggling with the phone company.

I kid you not, this was an intensive, three week process. It involved bargaining tactics and comparison shopping and many many MANY conversations with a phone company rep that he eventually got on a chummy, first-name basis with. At all hours of the day I would hear his half of the conversation in various stages of bargaining, talking about unlimited this and bottomless that, free five friends and favourites and long distance, and  a seemingly-endless back and forth about when “evenings” start.

It was his own personal David vs. Goliath, and I made fun of him mercilessly but at the end of the three weeks he emerged victorious and triumphant, with two shiny new iPhone 4s and an awesome plan that gave us everything and the kitchen sink for $50 a month.

Oh, you better believe I protested. “I don’t need an iPhone,” I demurred foolishly, “I don’t need all the bells and whistles, I seriously just need something I can text on.”

It’s sweet, looking back on my naïve former self. That dear girl with two free hands and a smartphone shaped hole in her life she didn’t even know existed.

 Fast forward to today, where I am a full-fledged, claw-handed, heart-racing, jonesing for a fix every five minutes iPhone addict.

I don’t play games, I don’t even have any cool apps, I just check things. I check blogs, and Facebook, and Twitter, and my RSS feeds, and my websites, and my texts, and my emails, and then I briefly look up from my screen to interact with the real world and by the time I am done that it’s time to check everything again in case there’s something new WHAT IF I MISS SOMETHING REFRESH REFRESH REFRESH – I said wait a second I’m on my phone!- REFRESHREFRESHFREFRESHREFRESH.

It was embarrassing. It has been embarrassing for an embarrassingly long time. I once discovered that you can track your iPhone usage by charging it fully overnight, using it during the day and then checking the “Usage since last full charge” thing in settings and holyshit. I am not even going to tell you what that number was. It was horrific. I was in the HOURS, not minutes. I would rather share my google search history than have my friends and family know how many hours a day I was logging on my phone.

(And not actually phoning anyone, mind you. For all of Adam’s haggling, I have never used more than 30 minutes of phone time a month.)

The worst part is, I am an anti-screen person. I am fond of telling people that my family didn’t own a TV until I was 14 (definitely responsible for my whole family’s voracious reading habits), I am against technological distractions, and am currently lobbying Adam to sell our laptops and our TV because I don’t want Olive watching it. Ever.

And yet….The phone.

I knew for a long time that this would have to change but I deeply, deeply did not want to change. Like, at all.

But I knew I had to. Not only because I hate the feeling of being attached, reliant, yes-addicted – to something, but because of Olive.

My iPhone, with it’s bright screen and blue case, is her most cherished object. It is the most special of all of her toys, and she values it more than Gus or books or even food- and this girls LOVES food.

She will literally bend over backwards to get to it, and one day I realized that it wasn’t just because it was shiny and bright. The phone held that much value to her because I always had it in my hand. Children – even babies, especially babies – are natural mimics. They learn to eat by watching you eat. They smile when you smile. And right around when she was learning to smile and laugh and stick out her tongue, she was learning that that phone was the most precious thing in the world.

And that was really, really depressing.

Did you know that rates of small accidents amongst children are at their highest in five years, because parents at home and at playgrounds are too busy staring at their screens (refreshrefreshrefresh) to yell “Sarah, stop bludgeoning that child with a shovel!” or “Jeremy, go down the slide feet-first, please!”

This article in Time Magazine sums it up succinctly, in a way that brings tears to my eyes:

The kids aren’t too happy about it. They’re pulling on their parents’ clothes. They’re yanking on their arms. They’re acting out to get attention. I’ve heard them begging their parents to stop, disconnect. I’ve watched children start to whimper the minute the mobile is picked up — off the dinner table. During dinner. The son of a friend of mine recently announced, at age 10, that he hates cell phones. Actually, he will tell you he hates technology. IPads don’t fool him. Neither does texting. He understands that his father can never get away from his work — and the office won’t get away from his father. He sees the phone, and he thinks, I’ve lost my dad’s attention. And that’s what children crave: attention. We all do.

(Read more: http://ideas.time.com/2012/05/17/why-cell-phones-are-bad-for-parenting/#ixzz2UKkQWt8j)

 Up until one or two months ago, Olive understood very little of what was happening around her. She was a beautiful, clever, passive little lump who couldn’t tell a smartphone from a sweet potato, but that’s all changed and now, so must I.

I don’t want to be a parent to a kid with two skinned knees because of my inattention. I don’t want to be constantly sending the message that she is second tier, rating somewhere after my social media networks but before pressing emails. That’s not what I believe, and my actions need to support my words.

So. An iPhone cleanse. But not a cleanse, not in the temporary, I’ll-go-back-to-my-old-habits-in-two weeks deal. This shit is LEGIT.

I began last week and this is how it’s shaping up. Observe:

  1. I deleted Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest from my phone. Permanently.
  2. When I am at home, my phone stays plugged in somewhere (desk, bedside table, computer etc.) with the ringer/notification turned on high (why is it important to note this? Because I never turned on the volume or the vibration before, because it was always in my hand. Jesus. Writing that makes me cringe.)
  3. Sound notifications have been turned off for everything but texts and phone calls.
  4. I make every effort to only pick up my phone for a specific purpose (eg. answering a text or phone call, finding a piece of information, texting someone else for a real reason and no, texting just to say, “Hey girl, what’s up? What the hell is going on with Amanda Bynes?!” is not a real reason)
  5. I don’t use my phone when I am with Olive. Not while I’m sitting with her watching her play, not while I’m at the park, not when I’m nursing her (with the exception of nursing her to sleep at nap time, because she can’t see it and it sometimes takes a while and I’d go crazy lying there in silence. That’s ok, right?)
  6. I don’t use my phone during social situations. I think I was ok with this one, but I’m going to watch it nonetheless. At the very least I can feel smug while looking around as everyone else does it.

The hard part about this (besides my empty claw hand and my suddenly, horrifically minute attention span), is that I don’t have my iPhone’s camera handy to capture funny Olive moments, but I think that will end up being a benefit because a) I don’t really need 2341 blurred iPhone pictures of my daughter, and b) It will force me to use my real camera more, meaning it’s more likely that I will end up with one great picture.

                                                                  ^^^^^

So. This is my plan. I want to succeed in this more than any other crazy hippie cleanse I have done before, because it speaks to what kind of parent I want to be, what kind of mother Olive will have. And I want to be the best for her.

Do any of you want to join me? We can shame each other motivate each other and become better, together! (You can share this post to publically commit to it, if you like)

Also, has anyone else tried this before? Am I the only claw-handed addict out there? Are there any rules I missed?

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1 Comment

  • Reply To the left, to the left | Sweet Madeleine January 1, 2014 at 2:47 PM

    […] vowed to dial back my iPhone use. This was…somewhat successful. A bit successful. Sort of successful! I’m better than I […]

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