“Are you bringing yours?” Steph asked as we set out for our weekly hike around Alameda. “God no,” I said, “I need a break – I’m like a freak.”
“Me too,” she said, throwing her hands in the air, “don’t even ask.”
So we would be champions then. We would muster the strength to simply be together instead of keeping one hopeful ear cocked for the sound of a beep, a buzz, a tweet, even a cricket – some indication that we weren’t alone, that we were part of whatever was going on out there in the world, and ultimately, of course, that we were loved.
Seriously, we could do this; we could take a break from our phones for one hour, 45 minutes and 27 seconds.
“But what if we need the voice recorder?” I said, “in case we say something brilliant?” It was true, these 7-milers around the island not only resulted in cheap therapy, but were the foundation for great blog posts and project ideas as well.
“We’ll just have to remember what we said, just like in the olden days,” Steph winked. Brutal, I thought. We could hardly remember our names sometimes, but we could try, we could go old school with this one.
The truth was, my world had gotten very small over the last couple of years. Smart phone small.
I don’t know how it happened. After my children left and my marriage ended, I probably spent more time by myself, but my big, lusty relationship with the phone sort of snuck up on me. One day I was just an ordinary user who made phone calls, checked emails, kicked off a few texts. Then suddenly overnight I became one of those people whose phone was stationed on the table at dinner, who checked email when their dinner mate got up to pee, the person who got lost in their phone while standing in line at the bank, at the market, riding in an elevator, or even when crossing a busy street, cars whipping all around me. If there is one moment of down time, my hand is digging into my purse like I’ve lost my pulse. It’s by my bed at night, the thing I’d grab if there were a fire. Anytime it beeps or chirps I startle and reach for it. It’s as if I come alive again.
Can anyone relate to this?
There is too much sexy stuff in the little box. The camera apps keep me totally entertained – I think I have 18 of them. Then there’s Instagram and Facebook, not to mention the Voice Recorder – which I use to capture ideas – Yahoo News Digest, Google Maps, Paypal, Epicurious – in case I need a recipe on the run – Safari, Bandsintown – to let me know which bands are coming – Nextdoor – the app that let’s my Alameda neighbors know about our house concert this weekend, Flixster so I can see what time a film is playing, and let’s not forget Tinder, the dating app – but don’t get me started on that one. Let’s just say that as far fetched as this sounds, my very own phone could introduce me to the next love of my life, though at the very least it’ll certainly remind me to meditate, or to have the photo I took three minutes ago printed and ready for pick-up at Walgreens in 10 minutes. Seriously. You can do that now. I did it last week.
It’s wildly convenient, I’m totally connected, and I’ve never felt lonelier in my life.
Not the kind of lonely like I wish someone would call. I’m not lacking for friends or things to do. It’s a kind of lonely that has me feeling a little lost and spacy when I have down time, like I forgot how to use my hands – the hands that used to make things in my free time; whole nights spent at the art table or playing guitar, or reading a book. Lonely and lost like I don’t know how to sit still or be quiet, like unless something is happening, I feel bored, like the party is happening in my phone and checking it every five minutes could change my mood or my life because someone might want to join a class, or they liked my Instagram shot, or my FB posting, or maybe I got a text from the nice man or someone else who is thinking of me and sending love. Lonely like I got locked outside of my own house and can’t seem to find the way back in. Lonely like my phone is some kind of crystal ball and I’m waiting for it to tell me something, only I forgot what I needed to know.
Lonely like that.
Apparently we can blame it on dopamine.
Check this out from Psychology Today:
“With the internet, twitter, and texting you now have almost instant gratification of your desire to seek. Want to talk to someone right away? Send a text and they respond in a few seconds. Want to look up some information? Just type your request into Google. Want to see what your colleagues are up to? Go to Linked In. It’s easy to get in a dopamine induced loop. Dopamine starts you seeking, then you get rewarded for the seeking which makes you seek more. It becomes harder and harder to stop looking at email, stop texting, or stop checking your cell phone to see if you have a message or a new text.”
Holy shit, right?
So it’s not just a weakness on my part, it’s in the water. It’s a condition and I’m not alone in this.
“You ready?” Steph says as we head out on our walk. “I think we’ll be fine without our phones, don’t you?”
“I think so,” I said. “I hope so.”
Holy shit is right. Thanks for the dopamine tidbit. I am so with you on the perils of ‘life in a device’. I have a love hate relationship with my iPhone. Without it, I fear my marriage to an extreme introvert (who is addicted to a much bigger screen – his television) would be almost intolerable. With it, I have to make a concentrated effort to leave that little box of wonder in my office (unless I’m taking photos!) because I fear I would be attending every ‘ping’! And pang. Thank you, Laurie, for telling the truth with such courage and grace. Love the new site! It’s gorgeous. It’s YOU.
turning computer off now. resuming human activities: play guitar. take walk. meditate.
Love it. You nailed it. And sometimes it makes me feel old too…like an old lady in a hot pink mini skirt old. Trying to be younger than I am. Dipping into the wrong decade’s pond. Thanks for this!!
Yes my friend. Yes. Me too. And thanks for calling us out. There’s a parable from the Native American culture that a ‘web’ will be mans downfall. Also..I recall decades ago the prediction that we’d loose our humanity and live/exist in an alternate reality. This is it. While I love communicating each moment (it feeds my over active brain) I too need the break. Love you. Gorgeous site, your photo is so honest and truly you–and the daughters! Wow! Xx
All I can say is “Me too.” And thanks for saying it so eloquently. xo, Ali
Yes yes yes. So glad you wrote this up. And I love the dopamine quote. Puts it a bit in perspective.
I deleted all the social media apps from my phone about a month ago. So here I am, on my lunch hour, sitting at Starbucks and checking in on my computer. Chemical highs and lows, gossip from the local “in” group, interacting with my writers group that only talks via FB, See what I would have missed without FB? This lovely post from someone who always makes me go hmmmmm. There is redemption.
Good God, yes. You hit the jackpot here, Laurie-loo. I am so thankful for your exquisitely sharp eye, and your bold truth-telling. This should be required reading on all social mediate channels. And personal dating sites. And, like, everywhere else.
OMG I’m with you! This post totally fit to me. Sometimes I feel so touched of something, make me happy and suddenly I feel lonely. And I can feel lonely when I got so seriously working (lol) … I got my phone, my lovely one on last March. And it stoled on August. First time I feel like I can’t past every day without my phone. I make it so own, its like part of me, but when it lost … I feel the earth wanna play with me, haha. So now I prove my self that I still can found a piece of good by interact with people without my phone, and here I am. The was lonely girl try to live here without phone. Haha. I hope I can survive more
So I’m thinking of going over to the dark side and getting a smart phone–the only reason being I want to take the story slices class and my idiot phone doesn’t take photos. I barely even use my phone, so I don’t think I would become attached like this, but who knows. I do love my dopamine!
Laurie…I think the new website is glorious. I especially love all the photos.