Taming The Beast

Octo­ber 17,  2008 — the day I bought my first shiny new iPhone. The joy! The pos­si­bil­i­ties! Inter­net on the go and ever-present email — what oppor­tu­ni­ties this brought for increased pro­duc­tiv­i­ty. Want to know what’s hap­pen­ing in Wash­ing­ton, Dublin, Bei­jing or Tim­buk­tu? No prob­lem, it’s all there. And the apps — from those which kept track of my to-do list to those which told me the time of the next train to those which helped me con­vert micro­grams to stones (if I ever had such a need).….ah, the apps.

3 years on, and I have come to more fre­quent­ly view my iPhone as a dou­ble-edged sword. For all the ben­e­fits and all the free­dom that it pro­vides, I am now more reg­u­lar­ly com­ing face-to-face with the hid­den costs of my ever-present device.

Top of that list is in my reduced abil­i­ty to be present, to stay in the moment, to remain focused on the pages of the nov­el in my hand when the draw of ‘what else is hap­pen­ing else­where’ is so strong. In a world that seems to move faster and faster, my device has made it more dif­fi­cult to escape this pace or allows me to escape in a super­fi­cial way through tem­po­rary dis­trac­tion.  There are oth­er down­sides that I have dis­cov­ered but it is this abil­i­ty to live in the moment which is cur­rent­ly most real for me.

So now in June 2011, I’m ready to exper­i­ment and begin to explore how ‘elas­tic’ my brain real­ly is after 3 years with this device by my side. Can I reclaim my abil­i­ty to stay engaged with length­i­er pieces of prose? Can I take back con­trol of this tool, which pro­vides such won­der­ful oppor­tu­ni­ties? Can I be more present when it is impor­tant to be? I believe so and I’ll be shar­ing my learn­ings with you along the way.

Step 1 — yes­ter­day, I removed the email accounts from my phone. Not a big prob­lem for me, as I have access to email by oth­er means through­out the day but an impor­tant first step in dis­con­nect­ing from this omnipresent device. Stay tuned.….

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