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Smartphone dependence: the agony and the ecstasy

Theresa M. Szczurek //April 5, 2010//

Smartphone dependence: the agony and the ecstasy

Theresa M. Szczurek //April 5, 2010//

Getting out of town for spring break this year seemed less challenging than my normal routine, which typically includes pulling close to an all-nighter while trying unsuccessfully to finish every uncompleted task. My family and I were all safely on the packed bus on time heading to the airport, when a dreadful question hit me -where is my BlackBerry?

Doing the mental check list, I reassured myself – yes, I have the laptop and its charger; okay, there is the Bluetooth headset with its charger; yep, I have the camera, videocamera and chargers; and here is the BlackBerry charger and its emergency battery backup charger. No BlackBerry. Oh dear!

Ecstasy. When I moved from a cell phone to a Smartphone, it changed my life for the better – instantly I was able to get all my emails and not have to wait to turn on my laptop, find Internet access, and retrieve the messages (which is what I had been doing). I could quickly check my Twitter stream and easily tweet. I could browse the Internet and get access to needed information. And I could make phone calls with reliable access to my directory and do much more 24/7.

Agony. The challenge, for me and many others, is turning it off and living in the present without constantly checking the addicting stream of electronic information. My husband is especially sensitive about having me read emails, tweets, and online articles while in bed; to me it seems the equivalent to the hardback book he is reading.

Lessons Learned. What would this trip be like without my Smartphone? Fortunately, it was only six days long. This is what I learned:

• I became aware of my dependence on my Smartphone. It makes me so much more efficient.
• I used my husband’s iPhone when necessary, which he did not like, but overall I was more present in the here-and-now of our vacation.
• Email communication was much less accessible, so my response time lagged. When I did get on the laptop (very early or late in the day, after our busy days in Washington DC), I only responded to the most urgent messages. I still have hundreds of non-responded emails.
• My office was able to get my BlackBerry to me two thirds of the way into this vacation and it was much easier for me to function then.
• The world did not end without my Smartphone.
• Next family vacation, I will truly go off net.

Practical Pointers about Successful Living with Technology

• Prepare a written checklist of essential technology to take with you each day, whether on a trip or just doing business
• Manually review the checklist before you leave for the day – make sure you have what you need, then relax and breathe easy.
• Agree to proper etiquette with the important people in your life about when/how to use technology and when to turn it off

How has your life been improved or high jacked by technology? Want to find out? Try giving your Smartphone up for a few days.

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