Friday, January 06, 2012

Addicted to disconnection

My wife looked at me funny when I asked her where she was at gymnastics.
We were on the second shift of gymnastics. My son was done, and it was the girls' turn. I was doing what I was told, as usual, and waiting for Jayden to put his clothes on so I could take him home. I missed Kate taking the girls in, so I gathered up Jayden, who was protesting that he wanted to be with Mom, and put him in the car.
"What do you mean?" she said later when I asked her why I missed her. "I talked to you. You answered. Allie came up to say hi."
I might as well have been sleepwalking.
Only I wasn't asleep.
I was looking at my iPhone.
To my credit, I was reading a story, a long, narrative story, the kind that makes me a better writer. But I can't just say I'm devoted to my craft. I'm really devoted to the phone. Sometimes, I wonder, more than my kids.
My iPhone is my favorite thing now. It has Angry Birds, e-mail, texting, Twitter, Facebook, Words With Friends and lots of other things to keep me from talking to anyone, even my family.
Lots of articles have come out in the last year about the addictive nature of smartphones, one of the more obvious things to cover in the last couple of years. Anytime I'm in a waiting area, or in a place where humans might actually interact with each other, two out of every three people are buried in their phones. I'm no different. I probably spend more time on my phone than I do read a book, read the paper or, sadly, play with my kids.
My wife even used it in a fight later. You're never here, she said. You're here, but you're not HERE.
She's right. I would love to blame it on the culture. It's easy to think that if others are looking at their phone, it's OK for you to do it too. That IS part of the problem. But it's not all of the problem.
Most of the problem is that I'm an introvert.
My iPhone broke a few days ago. The LED light wouldn't go off. I tried a lot of different solutions, but my last straw before taking it back to the Apple store was a Restore.
I did a restore on the iPhone, and I laughed when I did it. Usually the iPhone restores me.
Introverts crave time alone. That's what restores us. And when you're a parent of young children, that time is so limited. It's by far the hardest thing for me now. I probably need three hours a night to myself after work and baths and dinner. I get, maybe, an hour. Sometimes it's less, especially now that Jayden, 6, continually goes out of his room for drinks, snacks, begging to sleep in our bed, ask to watch me play Super Mario Bros. again, etc.
Given that, I snatch whatever time to myself I can get, and burying my nose in my phone actually disconnects me enough to give me that feeling of being alone. It's pretty frightening, actually, how lost I can get in it. I can have someone talk to me, and I can answer, without even knowing they are there, apparently. I wonder if my iPhone actually plugged a wire into me that night at gymnastics, forcing me to answer, so I would continue to play it.
That's only science fiction talking. Then again, a decade ago, a device that would play music, games, text, e-mail, surf the Internet, post a tweet, Facebook, take pictures and play movies probably seemed like science fiction too.
My New Year's Resolution is to spend more time with my kids and my wife. I'm always around. But now I need to be AROUND.
Every time it buzzes, I fight an itch. Playing Hot Wheels with the kids, so far, has scratched it.

P.S. You probably noticed some changes I made to the blog. I'm tempted to change the address in my blog, too, but I don't want to lose the audience I've built here. Regardless, I'm finally acknowledging that the focus of this blog has shifted, and rather than quit, I'd like to keep it going. If you'd like a link, let me know, as I tried to eliminate most of you who haven't written in a while.

1 comment:

TripJax said...

I'm the same man. I can get totally immersed and not even realize it; that said, I think the ease of use and not constantly being in front of a computer screen is a positive. Still, I think I could scale back some of my iPhone time and I'd still be on it too much.

I love the look of the blog man. It makes sense to give it a change. Keep up the great writing...