This is the time of year when people take upon themselves good resolutions to ring in the New Year. It is a good time as the Gregorian calendar resets, people – rightfully – feel that there is fresh slate being offered out there, and now is a good time to take good and positive new steps forward.
Being a veteran exercise buff – not that you could tell 🙂 – and gym rat, I look cynically at the sudden influx of workout buddies I get around this time of year, since I know it won’t last for most of them. I will have my machines back to myself in no time. Keeping our resolutions is a tough thing, so as I offer one of mine forward, I wish all a Happy New Year, filled with good resolutions and that we are still doing them in a few months from now.
Here is a letter I wrote to the object of my disaffection and thus my separation from it.
I say dear, as you are a close friend. I have you close nearby, in fact I can’t think of anything of my daily attire that is with me more or any routines where you are as ubiquitous. You are usually the first thing I look at in the morning, and that last I look at at night. There is almost no place you are not allowed to go. You go to holiest places in my life, my Shul where I pray, my Rebbe’s resting place where I go to introspect, and then, without skipping beat, you follow me right into the restroom.
You bring out the worst in me and ruin my relationships. I can be talking to people and you ping at me, and suddenly, in the midst of an important conversation with a friend or family member, and you suddenly demand my attention. I could ignore you, in theory, but I can’t. It is just plain rude, yet I violate this basic social etiquette whenever you are around.
Maybe it is the dopamine that you release in me. Scientists are now discovering that despite how powerful you are and how much good you can do, you are equally dangerous. Teenagers, and certainly children whose brains are just starting to develop are not equipped to handle the explosion of chemicals that you release in them every time you ring, ping, whistle or make any other funny or creative sound. Suicide rates are up. ADHD rates are up. Bullying rates are up. Human social interactivity is down. There used to be an obvious price for being nasty in public, now it’s a simple click of a button to hurt with virtually no consequences.
You ruin relationship for adults and don’t allow children and teenagers to ever have a proper one. I read a study, that ⅓ of divorces have “Facebook” mentioned as part of the reasons for the divorce.
I never thought being in my low 40’s I’d be grateful to have entered into a relationship when I did. I actually know what a healthy relationship looks like. The notion that you should get and give love, entertainment, guidance, criticism and more from another human being and not you, a device, is so foreign to today’s youth.
Frighteningly, we the adults are falling in with this. I am suddenly setting a very bad example. I am not practicing what I preach and everyone sees it. My kids are honest and innocent and they tell it to me straight.
Just last night I was bathing my kids, and one child told me, as I checked an all-too-important notification (just a little red dot next to the facebook app icon, no sound or anything, I turned that off a long time ago thinking this would help me look at you less… didn’t work) “who is more important to you, your phone or your child?” Never were more true words spoken by a five-year-old.
It’s hard to blame anyone for not wanting to have this exclusive relationship with the you. It’s the same reason people like pet dogs except much worse. Your pet dog is loyal, loving, non-judgmental, doesn’t berate you when you do wrong, makes you feel good when you’ve messed up basically gives you unconditional love.
You my dear phone are worse even more addictive, you give a false sense of all these above traits of the dog, you don’t even need to be fed (unless plugging you in for a few hours counts) taken for walks, cleaned up after. You give a false sense of my perfection when I should know when I make mistakes. When I should be interacting with others, you do that for me, so I find myself becoming more reclusive.
However, my dear phone it is more than just who you are. It’s even more about who and what you allow into my life. If you really loved me, you’d protect me. You make sure that I only was exposed to to get access to positive (even holy) influences.
In fact, you have not done this job well. You even have allowed other influences into my life that I now cannot do without. I mean that sincerely, that I cannot do without them. Take your buddy Facebook for example. I literally cannot run my business without it. I need it promote things that I do, and more. However, it has so many side effects that it has become unclear where its value ends and where its destruction begins.
I could be having a bad day, and a few blue-thumbs-up’s, (or red hearts on its Instagram cousin,) from a few people and all is better. Not really better, but it feels better, until it doesn’t feel better any more. Yet I keep looking at you, dear phone, again and again and again, waiting, hoping, for what? I don’t even know anymore.
I remember seeing a commercial, I think it was for an ISP provider where you saw a fellow with circles for eyes, sitting in front a computer and it read “You have reached the end of the internet.” I almost wish there was an end, so we could close you off and be done. But, like cigarettes, it appears, that your makers have designed you not for occasional recreational use, but rather that those who use you, become addicted to you and cannot seem to get away from you.
I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point clear. It is for these reasons, and more that I did not enumerate here, that we are entering a separation phase. We are not getting divorced, at least not now.
I will still deal with you, however there are going to be some major changes in our relationship.
For starters, social media apps are coming off of you, dear cellphone. I will check them in the morning and evening and occasionally mid-day as time allows. When they are checked it will be from a computer not on you. If anyone else out there needs me they can call or text.
Secondly, you are no longer going to be my master. I will decide when to have you next to me, and when to put you down. I am not going to available to all who think that they can you use you, oh cellphone, to call me or text me, or message me, or whatsapp me, or PM me, or DM at any time of day or night.
If the person is not my wife or child, please tell them, they may have to wait a bit until I get back to them. If ppl call me between 5:00pm when my children get home from school, until they are in bed, just take a message on your voicemail.
I can’t have my family competing with you for my attention. It turns out you are usually stronger than my willpower, so rather than fight, I am just putting you down. Hey, look at the upside, you finally get some rest, you may even get a charge while I put you down.
In closing, I hope that this trial separation improves our relationship. I hope it allows us to become better friends going forward with healthy boundaries and we can reconnect (pun intended) in a better and healthier manner, if not, well I don’t want to be negative but this trial separation may have go further.
Happy New Year!
Picture FCW.com Blog 14/52