Thursday, April 6, 2017

This is a test, this is only a test...

Anybody who knows me might have noticed that my online presence has diminished considerably over that past year or so.  Part of this has to do with the fact that as I've focused on my latest writing project, I've let my career as a self-published author dwindle.  My newest book is not the typical genre novel that can thrive on its own.  This one is the type of story that will need a home with a traditional publisher to succeed. And so I've spent less time marketing myself and my books online and withdrawn more into writing mode.

It also can be said that the state of the world these days finds me wanting to spend less time online in general.  I do want to know what's going on.  I still read the news, and watch it on TV, but I find that too much of it can be overwhelming.

Which leads me to my current test.  About a week ago I managed to accidentally destroy my smart phone beyond repair.  That itself is a long sad story, but the upshot was that for the first time in years, I was left without one.  Digging through an old drawer, I did manage to find a very old Nokia "dumb" phone.  I figured, hey, at least I can throw my sim card in there and have a voice connection while I wait for a new phone to arrive.

It was at that point, when I was about to order a new smart phone, that I began to ask myself a question: Do I really want a smart phone at all?  Do I want to have this thing in my pocket that is always calling out for my attention?  Do I want constant news updates?  Do I want to be a slave to that dopamine burst I get every time I check my texts, or email, or stock prices, or Facebook notifications?

I saw a television interview recently in which an expert claimed that the average person spends about 4 hours per day on their phone.  Do I want to waste twenty-eight hours per week on this electronic device?  Well, as you might guess, my answer to all of these questions was, "No, I do not."

That leads to more questions, however.  Don't I want a camera in my pocket at all times?  How about online maps?  What if I need a ride-share?  Are giving up these things worth the trade-off?

Now that I am one-week into my test, so far I haven't missed my smart phone one bit.  Well, except for the picture I would liked to have taken of a bunch of wildflowers in the desert.  But what would I even have done with it, really?  Probably never have looked at it again.

So I'll see how it goes.  I really do find that the distraction of a smart phone is quite annoying.  Most people, studies also show, check their phones on average once every six and a half minutes, all day long.  We are a society addicted, and I for one am going cold turkey.

I don't expect this experiment to last forever.  At some point I will probably cave.  Most likely that will be whenever I go traveling next.  It is hard to live in the modern world without this device.  Unfortunately, I find it somewhat hard to live with it, too.

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