Why I’m Not Getting a Divorce in 2014

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It seems everywhere I look today —HuffPost, Facebook, Twitter—people are resolving to dump/divorce/ditch their smartphones in 2014.

I’m not. And here’s why in one sentence: It’s incredibly useful.

As a small business owner I love the convenience of having all of my client contact information, my complete calendar, a not-half-bad camera, a video camera, a few dozen books, trade magazines, my commercial portfolio, a world atlas, some good tunes, a hyperfocal distance calculator, a level, a guide to the night sky, and movies galore—oh, and a phone — THAT FITS IN MY POCKET.

It’s true. I confess. I am deeply in love with my phone. I can’t count the number of occasions on which I saved time, or killed time, or booked billable time because I had my phone. I don’t want to divorce it. We enjoy a wonderful marriage, but it’s a marriage of convenience and the convenience is mine.

If you’re feeling like your phone (and all those people in it!) get a bit more attention than it should, you don’t have to dump it. Here are a few easy-to-develop habits that can save your relationship with your smartphone, and perhaps a few other more important relationships too.

First, remember it’s an appliance, not a person. You can’t hurt its feelings by ignoring it. I turn mine off a lot. I don’t mean I put it on vibrate, I mean I turn it all the way off. If it’s not off it’s at least in Airplane Mode during photo sessions, meetings, and while I’m reading.

Don’t have it permanently attached to your body. Don’t carry it in your hand. Don’t keep it in your back pocket. At home my iPhone could be anywhere – from buried somewhere on my desk, or on the bottom of my purse. Once I put it in the refrigerator? When I need it I can usually find it. While out in the world the phone is in my purse or camera bag. There is no reason to be holding your phone when you’re sitting across from friends or family enjoying a meal. If I’m driving, the phone’s in a camera or computer bag on the back seat of the car where I can’t reach it and won’t be tempted to text while driving. Yes I know I risk missing all those important status updates.

Your email is really a lot like snail mail.
90% of it is probably junk. Don’t have your email automatically download to your phone. The last thing I want when going to make a phone call or use an app is to see that I’ve received three new emails. Wondering about the content of those emails will now occupy my attention even if only by knowing they’re there. (The same is true of my desktop and laptop – I open my email program twice a day, three times if in the thick of a collaborative project. Email is disruptive.)

There’s good and bad in every relationship – focus on the good – and keep it in perspective. It’s not the physical device you’re interested in, it’s the attention you get from every one the phone connects you to that’s seductive. When you’re actually with some of those people your don’t need the phone.



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