My phone is broken. It was a smart phone, and over the last few weeks I have lurched through various emotions; sadness, shock, disbelief, denial, and joy. Leaving aside the cost of replacing it, it’s disappearance has made me realise just how dependent on it I had become. A substitute memory, it stored details of friends/colleagues/clients, events, music, videos, photos – (did I really need all those photos?), apps- an extended game of scrabble, notes and I used it as an alarm clock, a clock, a calculator…
Photo by Blakespot on Flickr.
How did I become so dependant on a phone! And what is this dependence doing to my memory?
In an article in the new York Times a few years ago, Dr. Aboujaoude, director of the Impulse Control Disorders Clinic at Stanford asks whether our dependence on saving and storing data in e-mail and on the Internet is causing us to keep unnecessary memories at the expense of making new ones.
“If you can’t forget because all this stuff is staring at you, what does that do to your ability to lay down new memories and remember things that you should be remembering?”
The story of the Japanese tourists in Australia, who followed their GPS directions to an island and drove into the sea is perhaps the ultimate in dependency. However, I’m beginning to wonder if we are on a slippery slope…
When I was teaching I did an exercise with my students to go without technology for a weekend. No computers, games, television, phones etc. After the weekend they wrote about their experiences. A few couldn’t get past the first night, however the majority succeeded. Many wrote of a feeling of liberation, of reconnecting with family, playing more sports, and checking in with themselves. For some it was a life changing experience. Concerned at how dependent on technology they had become, they voluntarily reduced their hours of screen time.
Since I lost my phone I seem to have slowed down. For the first few days, before I’d cranked up my old phone, it felt fantastic to know that I was uncontactable. I no longer felt compelled to check emails, text, call or check for information – I felt free! Our days have become such a blur of activity. Work crosses into family life and there is the ridiculous expectation that we should be available wherever and whenever. Perhaps replacing the smart phone is not a wise idea if I want to reduce stress in my life.
Are you hooked on technology? Check out the test on this page to see: