I was “working” from the Cape last Friday. Work. Right. It turned out to be a beautiful day. The tide was high in the morning, so I decided to go for a quick swim and then work in the afternoon. After swimming, I got an invite to go sailing. No wonder there is a dearth of professionals on Cape Cod.
The pre-sailing logistics begin. Drive to the boatyard. Help load food onto boat. Drop off car in Woods Hole. It is a beautiful day, and despite my feelings of guilt for not working, I’m enjoying the moment. Besides, I can always answer emails on my phone, thereby appearing to work for all practical purposes.
I am stepping carefully from the sailboat into the skiff when I hear it: PLOP. My phone. It was hanging carelessly out of my back pocket. G-O-N-E.
Laughter ensues, followed by sheer panic. My mind is racing. Someone could be calling Groundwork! I could be losing leads! I am the worst business partner ever. I can’t afford a new iPhone right now. Will I be demoted to a flip phone? How can I be a marketing professional with a flip phone? What if someone is trying to ask me out right now? I’m losing leads and dates! I will be single forever with a flip phone and no income. This is horrible.
I race home, call every number I remember from the land line, and connect to Facebook. I must announce that I lost my phone. People will obviously be wondering by now. Groundwork! must be falling apart. I am SO IMPORTANT, I cannot afford to be disconnected! I’m losing my influence by the second. I’m eating peanut butter frantically by the spoonful as I pace around the kitchen. Suddenly I am so hungry! And stressed! And hungry! Do I even exist right now?
Facebook doesn’t appear to be interested in my phone issue. Dena is not answering the phone at Groundwork!. Nobody else seems to care, although how would I know? I could drive to the Verizon store tonight, or I could just go sailing.
I drive back to the boatyard and wait for my friends on the dock. I reach for my pocket twenty times to check my phone. Twenty minutes feels like an eternity. Has it even been twenty minutes? I wouldn’t know. I have no idea what time it is without my phone. Am I wrong? Is everything I’m doing wrong right now? I feel so… disoriented.
And then we are cutting across Buzzards Bay, sails in the wind. Sea spray. Sunset gives way to starry sky overhead. We see the faint lights of Marion to our right and Woods Hole to the left. At some point I stop reaching for my pocket. At some point, it is just stars and sea and a few friends and wind in the sails. At some point, it is only this. There’s nothing to check. We are free for a moment. And nobody needs to know about it.
Hi. My name is Sarah, and I have an iPhone problem. I work in digital marketing. I manage multiple social media accounts. I tweet regularly. I cannot enjoy beauty without instagramming it. I blog. I need my phone. And I am seriously worried and disturbed about the effects of my phone usage on my brain. What is happening to my ability to focus? To be in the moment? Can I use technology rationally?
So what do we do? Smart phones can help us to be so connected. I’ve made a ton of meaningful, real-life connections through my phone. And yet the quality of my life, of me, of my attention in any given moment, is suffering dramatically.
Please, share your thoughts on this below. How do you find the balance? I want to know.