Addiction, Schmadiction to Technology…

April 15, 2017 1:46pm
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Last night I stumbled across a relatively new invention that really struck a chord with me … anyone who’s lucky enough to follow me on Twitter might’ve seen my mini-rant about how I’d never let somebody lock my cell phone up on me as a condition for seeing their live performance, but now that I’ve had a chance to sleep on it … I still think that it’s a horrible idea, but I wanted to expand on my thoughts a bit more… 😉

I think the main reason why it seems like such an offensive idea to lock my cell phone up in a sock is simply because it’s quite undeniable how much in the last several years our phones have really transformed into an extension of ourselves.

For me, it started when I got my first iPhone back in 2011. Although I’m guessing that I probably got my first Nokia candy bar phone back in my early 20’s (circa 2000-2001 ish?), it wasn’t until Apple went and changed everything that carrying a cell phone really exploded for me from just being a device to call and text people from to really being a portable computer that put access to the Internet in my pocket wherever I went.

…because if we’re being honest here, being the introvert that I am, if I could have a cell phone that only allowed people to contact me via Twitter or email and not via call or text, I’d probably be all over that! 😛

Seriously, that was one of the points that I read in this Ars Technica article about Yondr’s cell phone locks from a few years ago that spooked me the most! Forced social interaction with no digital world to hide behind when my anxiety gets the best of me?! No thank you!

Anyways, I know that I rely on my phone a lot these days – most people, at least my age or younger do – but I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it’s a bad thing. Although admittedly Facebook and Twitter take up far more of my time than they probably should, I also regularly use my phone for…

  • taking notes for things I want to write later
  • writing things that can’t wait for later
  • checking up on website stats
  • posting pictures of my lunch
  • playing Angry Birds on the toilet
  • ordering last-minute things from Amazon that I just realized we need
  • streaming radio in the car on Pandora
  • taking and sharing pictures of my kids, or something weird that I just saw at the store
  • finding directions to the store
  • checking wait times for attractions at Walt Disney World
  • tweeting random nonsense to myself that’s likely only amusing to myself
  • reading the news
  • entertaining my kids with videos from Disney Junior and Sesame Street
  • ordering pizza
  • reviewing our family calendar
  • checking my bank account and investment balances
  • hell, even just checking what time it is!

And just to be clear, no – I don’t need to do all of those things while I’m in the middle of watching a concert, but that’s not the point. When you’ve got a device that has become so ingrained in your day to day life, the idea of giving it up voluntarily even for a couple of hours is even more terrifying than realizing your battery is at 2% and there isn’t a charger anywhere in sight!

I mean, I’ve had periods where I certainly need some time away from things as well, but when it comes to my phone it usually means just ignoring social media and other forms of contact for a while. I still very much want to use my phone to work on a new column or even just help me unwind a bit – it’s why the last time we went on a cruise, I still carried mine with me all day even though most of the time I couldn’t use the actual phone or data.

Sure, there are people who abuse being on their phones, and no doubt that’s at least part of what this silly lockable sock is meant to counter … though protecting IP rights for performers is also clearly a goal, too, even if they want to focus on “improving the live experience for the audience.” 

Thankfully, for the most part I’m kind of past the part of my life, as the last concert I saw was probably in 2003 and even with the handful of comedians I have watched since, it wouldn’t be much loss to just say that I’ll catch their latest special instead of they’re going to jump on the cell phone lock bandwagon because it’s just not worth it to me. I’ve never been a fan of punishing the entire group for the offenses of a small few, and if we really wanted to dig into the bigger issue, there’s a part of me that wonders if taking cell phones away with cause a bigger hit to these performers’ social currency in the long run.

A lot of the comments that I read arguing in its favor went along the lines of “we had emergencies back before cell phones and things worked out just fine,” but to me that just sounds like generational grumpiness escaped from reality. People were also just fine before regular telephones, and cars, and movable type, but life has definitely improved since their invention!

“Why don’t you just slow down and walk to the store – you kids, driving your cars everywhere you want to go…”

Technology is great, and it shouldn’t be penalized by the smaller percentage of people who can’t be responsible in its use. You can have my cell phone when you pry it from my cold, dead hands … or if the battery is completely dead … but if it means missing out on Chris Rock or Guns ‘n Roses the next time they come to town, so be it.

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