Friday, 20 March 2020

The phone is my servant

My mother always drove my siblings and I mad when we were kids, by saying "the phone is my servant; I am not its". There would be no mad rush for the telephone when it rang in our house: the phone would get answered if someone persisted long enough for one of us to answer it.

Despite our collective teenage eye rolls when this motherly wisdom was dropped, we have all taken the spirit of this to heart. All of us are pretty relaxed about the phone: so much so that my sister's phone message tells people that she never checks her messages, but if they really want to leave a message they are welcome to, but she probably wouldn't listen to it.

So when I read a medium article recently by Megan Holstein (29 December 2019) about how she has ditched her smart phone reminders because "I decide when to use my phone, not my phone", it was as if it came from a kindred spirit. She carried on, saying "When you get a notification, it’s the same thing as your phone tapping you on the shoulder saying 'use me!' Personally, I don’t want my phone tapping me on the shoulder all day. I want my phone to leave me alone until I’m ready to pick it up". 

Megan makes some very good points. She suggests that we should ditch apps that keep reminding us to notice things that it thinks are important, and just have apps that help us to do the things that we decide we need to do. 

The Smartphone has become somewhat like a religion. We are rubbing the bellies of them minute by minute, day by day, month by month... and our lives are being absorbed into them. 

About two years ago I fell out of love with Facebook - largely because of the Cambridge Analytica situation - and largely only post monthly to it now (I also delete all my FB history each month). I haven't missed it. At the same time I stopped Instagram completely, dialed back Twitter and dropped Pinterest like a a wasp-infested apple. Not doing social media has given me more time for better quality reading. I stopped being busy for the sake of being busy.

And, as Megan has done, I too have turned off all my phone reminders. I also habitually turn the sound off on my phone. If I have the phone in my hand and it rings, then I will answer it. If not, then I miss the call. Unlike my sister, I do check my messages, but only once a day. And - unsurprisingly - my life has not been made worse by missing out on anything. If something is so important that people really need to get in touch with me, they will. 

Otherwise, the phone is my servant. I am not its.


Sam

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