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Ill Communication: 5 ways the iPhone makes life worse


Once upon a time phone was just a phone. Now it is a phone, modern fax machine, email hub, research assistant, book, stereo, TV, arcade, navigation device, and camera. Which is awesome. It is also tool to stalk your ex-boyfriend, way your boss can get in touch with you 24/7 and all around time suck. Which is less awesome.

All around Los Angeles, as people shop, lunch, drive and even spend time with their friends, they are also on their phones. I once saw an action movie and the guy sitting next to me was watching the movie, texting and playing Words With Friends all at the same time. I never want to be an annoying as that guy. But, at times, I probably am. As much as I absolutely love my iphone, I’ve been realizing more and more that there are downsides to it as well, and not just developing late-in-life ADD.

So here are five ways life isn’t better since we got access to our awesome phones:


I have a great many apps and most of themt want to know where I am. The iPhone is a bit of a stalker. I always so no’ but that doesn’t mean I’m not being tracked right now. It creeps me out. As such, I never ‘check in’ at any restaurants, but a lot of friends ‘check me’ in without my realizing. Why do we need to know the exact GPS location of everyone we know at all times?

And there is another kind of privacy that we’ve lost. It used to be acceptable to call someone back within one to three days. Now it means something, usually something perceived as bad, if you don’t call someone back within one to three hours. Even then, you feel obligated tell them why you didn’t pick up when they called. Even more so with texting. It seems that the proper window of time to return a text is measured in minutes, not hours. Sometimes, it needs to be okay to be unreachable. You shouldn’t have to explain why.

Never off the clock:

This is related to the above as it pertains to our professional lives. Workin’ 9-5? More like 8-7:30, and even then, because of our access to emails on our phones, we’re never really off the clock. There have been so many night, after having worked 10 to 11 hours already, that I’d be furiously answering emails (I mean that in both senses of the word, which is to say that I was doing it quickly and that I was angry), and thinking… why am I still working? I’m in the entertainment business. Despite what the industry likes to think, we are not curing anything. We are not saving lives. There are actual people who do that and yes, they actually are on call. I don’t need to be.

Our attention span is shrinking:

I’ve been a little disturbed by all the multitasking I do on my phone. I find myself listening to an audiobook while playing a game or surfing the web (and lately doing that while holding a sleeping child). One of those things is really plenty. Always being entertained isn’t good for human beings. I feel like a bunch of us who never had anything approaching ADD are now a little short on attention span as a result of constant access to out phones.

Don’t have to think:

There was a time when, if you were out to dinner and you and your friends got in a discussion about what year The Goonies came out, you’d have to think back where you were and what grade you were in when you saw it to figure it out. There might be some disagreement and you’d hear everyone’s story about seeing it in the theater, etc. Now you just go to your IMDB app (though honestly, for movie release years, I’ll always trust Claudia’s memory. She’s amazing with that kind of info). Disagreements can be instantly cleared up with a quick glimpse at Wikipedia. That can be a good thing if you really just want the information, but somehow something is lost when you don’t have to think about it at all.

And here’s a shocking confession… I honestly don’t know my husband’s telephone number. That’s horrible, but I’ve only ever dialed it a few times, namely when I entered it into my phone all those years ago. It used to be that even if you had a cell phone, you still memorized certain numbers because if you ever lost your phone you were totally screwed. But now if I lost my phone, I’d just buy another one, enter in my apple ID and all my stuff would zap to my new phone instantly. Or worst case scenario, I could always get to a computer (or borrow the phone of the person next to me) and shoot an email to my husband because I know he’ll have his iphone on him and he’ll get it as quickly as he would a phone call

We ‘communicate’ more, but talk less:

At the risk of sounding like an old fogey, I don’t like that we don’t get to hear stuff first hand anymore. I never want to hear a friend, no matter how casual, is going through a breakup or illness via facebook. Yet it happens all the time. And when we communicate via text means we just give the vial information instead of talking in depth (My husband, who hates talking on the phone, thinks this is a good thing. I disagree).

It is easier and easier to become a Virtual Man (or woman) with an iPhone. The iPhones are just so easy to use, but there are some things in life that should take a little thought and effort and courtship is one of them.

All that being said, am I willing to get rid of my iPhone? Hells to the no. But I have made an effort to be on it less. I try to be with the people I’m with, instead of constantly looking at the phone. If a text comes in and I’m having lunch with a friend, the text can wait. After all, Facebook and Words With Friends are a lot less satisfying than sharing some actual words with actual friends.


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