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Smartphone Addiction

Although I like my iPhone 5—and I’m sure I would love the new model coming out soon—I’ve gradually come to realise that I’m addicted to using it.

My addiction is not to the phone itself—I can probably count my number of monthly phone calls on the fingers on one hand—but to all the other always-on things that it enables. I find myself checking, reading, sharing, updating things on Facebook, Twitter, App.Net, Instagram, Google Hangouts, Swarm, Lobste.rs, & Messages. You name it: I probably have an app for it. I’m experiencing social media fatigue, and I want out.

Lately I’ve increasingly felt a need to to disconnect from the firehose of information & take time to properly relax. I long to go for long hikes; alone or in a small group; across mountains, hills or wilderness. I have also lately had a strong urge to take up Archery again. (I was a member of a club in Canonbury a few years ago, but it moved & I didn’t move with it.) I found it incredibly relaxing and invigorating to let my mind go and just lose arrow after arrow at the target.

However, in practice things are a bit different. I feel naked & vulnerable leaving home without my iPhone. I feel it would be unfair to my wife because she’d not be able to reach me in an emergency. I tell myself that I need the maps app to find the shortest route home if I’m lost. But I am wondering if these things are just what I tell myself to avoid admitting that I’m addicted.

I do want a phone, because I don’t want to be completely cut off from the world around me. But I don’t want a smartphone any more. I want something that can make phone calls, and possibly send messages. I have lately thought about replacing the iPhone with an iPad Mini. It fits in my bag, but because it won’t fit in my pocket, nor can I operate it one-handed. Thus I’m hoping I won’t feel compelled to carry it & keep checking it everywhere.

I expect I’ll miss the camera the most from my iPhone. The iPhone 5 camera is really rather good—and I expect the camera on the next model is even better. (Apple aren’t idiots.) I have an SLR, but the best camera is the one you always carry with you, and for years now that has been my iPhone. Perhaps I’ll join the ranks of dorks taking pictures with their iPads.

Today I was called up by Vodafone, and it prompted me writing this post. They wanted to let me know that I’m legible for an early upgrade of my handset, and would I mind confirming my identity and they’d get right on upgrading my handset immediately? I told them I don’t hand over my personal details to random callers, so they left a number I could call them back on. For the reasons stated above, I don’t think I will. I need a social media intervention—not a faster phone to waste time on checking social media at any opportunity with.

By the way: the cynic in me is wondering why they go to the bother of calling me to let me know I’m legible for an early upgrade. Is it because a) they want to charge me an early upgrade fee, or b) it’s because the next iPhone is expected to come out soon, and they don’t particularly like iPhones? Answers on a post card…