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.….