The better phones get, the easier it becomes to justify using them. But when does it become too much?
As many people do over the holidays, I tried to spend less time on my phone. I tried to be more present with the people in front of me. But occasionally, after 10 or 15 minutes sitting in the same spot, my mind wandered a bit, as did my hand, towards the phone sitting face down on the table in front of me. I’ll just look —
“Dan, are you bored?” My mom, breaking from a conversation with my wife, asked me directly. I’d been scrolling through Twitter for over two minutes, but I was convinced it had only been a few seconds. I completely lost that time — time that I won’t be able to get back. Was it worth it? In the moment it felt like the right thing to do, to surreptitiously pick up my phone and respond to someone on the internet who wanted my attention.
Over the past few years, I’ve noticed my own attention wavering more easily, even when my phone isn’t nearby. Just the knowledge that there are notifications to check and people to communicate with is often enough to take me out of myself, even for a moment. My phone is the first thing I look at in the morning as it lays unassuming next to my head on the bedside table. It’s the dopamine hit I need in the lulling mid-afternoon hours and the easiest way to look busy when I want to avoid that awkward conversation.
These are dangerous behaviors if left to propagate undeterred. I want to be able to use my phone as a tool, as a means to get work done or enjoy a few moments to myself, to scroll through Twitter