A few years back, I decided to jump into the modern generation and purchase a smartphone. My wife and I spoke about what our true needs were for having cellphones. Internet access and GPS, at the time, were not apart of those needs.
When talking with the phone merchant, we explained that all we really needed from a cellphone was something that could make and receive calls and texts. Plain and simple, cut and dry. At that time, we still were rocking slide phones that allowed us to text with a full keyboard. Funny how much life has changed.
Fast forward to current day. Our phones are literally glued to our hips. When I leave my house each day, I have to do the routine of “wallet, keys, phone” just to make sure that I have all the necessities. I don’t remember the last time that my cellphone was not a necessity.
I do appreciate what my smartphone has brought me. I have been able to downsize from a lot of other gadgets into a single one. I no longer have to grab my GPS navigation system for travel or my iPod for listening to music and podcasts. My phone has allowed me to be fully functional on the road — without all the cords.
Another plus is all the arguments and quiz questions that you can easily answer. How many times have you gotten into a conversation and began discussing a baseball player’s original team, a movie’s back story, the location of a restaurant or who sang that famous tune? The smartphone has become a walking encyclopedia that helps you answer those tough-to-figure-out questions.
As a parent, I am happy to know that I can leave my children with their grandparents or sitter and be easily accessible if they need me. Despite being on the phone’s leash, it has allowed my wife and I to enjoy nights out with the sense of security. Just a quick call and we can be there for our family.
One big negative to smartphones has been the decrease in productivity. I have to admit, I have fallen trap to numerous articles that I have viewed on my phone and realized that I have lost 20 minutes. In a job where I work on deadlines, this isn’t the optimal outcome. I have been able to curb this by setting limits on the usage.
Another issue that I run into is the constant charging of my phone. Despite not getting caught in the rabbit hole that much, I do use my phone for a myriad of different operations throughout a day. I will use it to listen to music while working out, as a calendar to mark down important events, a flashlight when I am looking for something in the dark, and as a camera in a pinch. With all that wattage, I find myself charging my phone each day.
Lastly, a faux attachment to the phone has ruined vacations. I have yet to go on a vacation without receiving a call from work. I am glad to help, but it’s hard to actually be “on vacation” when you keep getting calls.
To be honest, I long for the days where you could leave the house and not worry about receiving a phone call from work or someone else that would pull you out of the moment. The joy of spending time with friends and family and not thinking about the next project or waiting for the possible interruption because the person that was supposed to call earlier has yet to return yours. My what a wonderful world that was.
Zach Stich is the managing editor of The Daily Journal. His column appears each Thursday.