Some of the funniest commercials on television these days are the smartphone commercials. My favorite is the Windows Phone commercial that takes place at a wedding, and all the iPhone and Android people get into a giant fist fight while a couple Windows phone people stand contentedly above the fray with their more “no nonsense”, less trendy type smartphones.
What makes people anxious? Traffic, construction noise, war, disease, crowds, trans-fats, gangsta rap, congress, the dentist, children, marriage…They all induce stress in me as much as the next person, but you know what really gets to me? That Android phone bump thing you see people do.
I watched a Vlog by a friend of mine recently, where he talked about a woman who got rid of her smartphone in order to fight her OCD behavior. She couldn’t go more than five minutes without checking her e-mail or her Facebook, so she dumped her phone. I wholeheartedly applaud this lady’s wisdom and bravery. Her action inspired me. I quickly began devising ways that I too could divest myself of this glowing, rectangular ball-and-chain in my pocket – stress-broadcasting, attention-snaring, zombie making little racket maker it is! Unfortunately, it is not so simple for me. I can’t deny that I’ve come to depend on the burping, chirping device to properly perform at my job. It’s the thing that reminds me to do everything – carries my constantly changing calendar, guides me to onsite meetings, links me to company CRM tools – not to mention, keeps me precariously bound to planet Earth with its onboard music, Podcasts and Pandora radio features. That damn iPhone gives me the abilities of three men. Without it, I’m like Tony Stark without his Iron Man suit, though not nearly as smart, funny, rich or good looking.
So, the question becomes, in our current times, is it possible to continue to excel professionally without the aid of a fully featured smartphone device? I don’t pretend to know, but I’m attempting to find out (sort of). Nearly two weeks ago, I gagged my iPhone by deactivating all features, other than those I considered absolutely necessary. No more e-mail. No more Facebook. No more web. No more WordPress. Pandora radio? Yeah, I still have that – call it psychosis prevention.
I hit my first hiccup two days in. I needed to attend a gotomeeting on my phone – a feature I’d kept available – but I hadn’t saved the meeting ID or conference call number, so I had to temporarily reactivate my e-mail just to retrieve the login. Then, when I attempted to tap the short-cut in the e-mail, it wouldn’t work because the web browser was disabled. Seriously? Derailed after only two days?? Still, I am undeterred. With a little more forethought, I can avoid predicaments like that initial one, and the time since has shown me that it is worth it to figure this out.
Since the great iPhone retardation, my mind has felt so much less frazzled. One of the worst feelings is to receive an e-mail when you are in no position to respond to it, especially when you really want and need to respond as soon as you see it because the content therein so excited or incensed you that you simply will not be able to function properly until that message is responded to NOW! Ugh…no thank you. I’m done having my attention hijacked by matters that I’m in no condition to attend to. It occurs to me that we have all been unwittingly sold into slavery to a legion of techno-taskmasters of our own creation. All these clamorous devices, digital whips in hand, they scream at us day and night, and their collective message remains always the same – YOU MUST BE ALWAYS REACHABLE! YOU MAY NOT STOP! YOU MUST BE ALWAYS REACHABLE! YOU MAY NOT HAVE QUIET! YOU MUST BE ALWAYS REACHABLE! YOU MUST! YOU MUST! YOU MUST! I suppose my iPhone is still screaming, but I don’t hear it as much through the restraints I’ve placed upon it. I hear its cries when I’m waiting in line somewhere, or in any other of those in-between moments of the day, when the most logical thing becomes to utilize those precious moments, and Siri’s muffled voice wriggles from my right pants pocket, “Untie me, just for a second! I’ll make it worth your while! I have e-mail for you! I have entertainment to fill this fracture in time, this void, this void, this void in you, I can fill it!” I’ll admit, her digitized cries tugged at my attention for a time, but I’ve gotten over it. Challenges remain; I’m certain. The first time I lose a sale and blame it on my inability to instantly access my e-mail, I’ll be tempted powerfully. When that time comes, I will try to recall times like this moment I’m in here – writing, uninterrupted. Removing thorns from your flesh is far less precarious when your attention is undivided.
What say you, then? Is anybody else inspired to put a gag on their smartphone? Maybe we could start a club or a support group.