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10 to Twins

By Jessica T

About this blog: I'm a late thirties mother of a ten-year-old and infant twins. My family moved to Menlo Park 6 years ago from Virginia - where I grew up, went to college, got married, had my first born, and got an MBA (in that order). I'm a manag...  (More)

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Uploaded: Apr 6, 2014
Last week, I totaled my phone. I had a tough day at work, and as I got out of my car, I dropped the phone. I have made this mistake countless times, but on this day, my phone fell face first on a large rock and shattered. I cried for two nights out of sheer frustration.

Am I really that attached to my phone? No way! Then why was I crying about a device that keeps me tethered to work, reminds me of the friendships I no longer have time to cultivate, and evokes volunteer opportunities that I painfully ignore? I'm not sure... No one I cared about had been hurt, yet my phone has come to symbolize a set of my most intimate conveniences.

I couldn't call my mom on the way to work. I'd have to listen to music or the whizzing traffic of the 101 during my commute. I couldn't check the weather in the morning while deciding what I wanted to wear without stepping outside. I couldn't consult my calendar to determine where I needed to be without hauling out my laptop. And, perhaps most infuriatingly, I'd have to get a new phone. This brought on a whole host of experiences to dread: a trip to the cell phone store, uninstalling needless apps pre-installed on my new phone, etc.

I spent the past week and a half phone-free and what a glorious ten days it was. On my way out the door in the morning, I reassured myself that should I break down on the road, everyone except me carried a phone and would come to my rescue. But I shouldn't have worried. Breakdowns, after all, are not the norm. At work, I no longer had to juggle walking to meetings with an additional device on top of my laptop, notebook, and water bottle.

I made dates with friends by saying things like, "Remember, I'm phone-free!" Being phone-free was liberating! It was like I was a teenager in the 1990's once more. If you must reach me, call my landline at home, or better yet come find me! I couldn't check my phone compulsively to know what headlines had broken and who had responded to my email. Everything would have to wait.

My emancipation was real, if unrealistic. I think it's unlikely that the rest of the world will willingly join me in a phone-free state. We've become accustomed to letting our loved ones know when we are on our way home and to showing our friends we care with texts and photos. One simply can't participate in today's way of life without a smartphone.

And so this week I got another phone, nearly identical to the broken one. For now, at least, I seem less attached to it. It stayed zipped in my pocket for the entirety of my Saturday night date with my husband, and it napped at home while I took a long walk with my family on Sunday afternoon.

Going phone-free for a short period of time has reminded me that my phone is not my family -- it's infinitely replaceable and unimportant. And it certainly doesn't replace the splendors of living in the tactile world.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by sudhir singh, a resident of another community,
on Apr 6, 2014 at 10:36 pm

wish my wife also becomes phone free for a while esp whats app free, I will be really happy

Posted by M T-P, a resident of another community,
on Apr 7, 2014 at 12:19 am

Strangely, I've become more attached to my device since the birth of my child and I hope it doesn't make me less mindful of him while trying to communicate with family about him!

Posted by Mother of 4, a resident of Palo Alto High School,
on Apr 7, 2014 at 7:45 am

This doesn't seem to be a problem for me personally, can't say I am really hooked.

But, I know people who deliberately take phone vacations - either for a whole day (regular Sunday), evening, weekend, etc. and just use the phone as an emergency contact device.

Good for you for trying and blogging about it.

Posted by Jay Park, a resident of Jackson Park,
on Apr 7, 2014 at 3:17 pm

I present this study about smartphones and parenting recently published by Pediatrics journal:

Web Link
Web Link
Web Link

without personal commentary.

(Disclaimer: I do not have children of my own.)

Posted by Jessica T, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Apr 7, 2014 at 8:53 pm

Jessica T is a registered user.

I think all parents benefit from the conveniences of smartphones - we can send our family photos on the fly, track feedings, etc...Being able to have discipline and take a phone vacation when necessary as Mother of 4 suggests is key!

Posted by Jay Park, a resident of Jackson Park,
on Apr 7, 2014 at 9:14 pm

Real-time event documentation is not a requirement of successful parenthood. One can easily rebroadcast the choice moments at a later time, perhaps from home at a computer, rather than from a smartphone.

Note that you might not even need to post on the same day of the event. You could wait later in the week.

The fact that your kid is picking up a sea urchin at the local tide pool *RIGHT NOW* isn't really important in the grand scheme of things.

Heck, if you are going into labor, do you want it to be broadcast in realtime?

Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on Apr 9, 2014 at 2:31 pm

I don't know what your carrier is, but if it's a real problem you can usually just go buy a new phone, restore it from your computer, and pick right up where you left off. I've had a smart phone for ... not even sure ... pretty much since they came out. I don't let it rule my life. I've never had it ring at the movies, at work or inappropriately. All you have to do is maintain your priorities, although I have "glanced" at it a few times when I have been driving.

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