My iPhone, Myself

Baby's first Instagram...
Baby’s first Instagram

This may shock you, and it’s a little hard for me to admit…

…because I don’t think of myself as a tech dinosaur.

But here’s why there was no article yesterday:

I left my house to meet a new friend for coffee in the morning, and ended up finally—unexpectedly—completing a project that has been incomplete for over a year.

When you can feel in your gut that you’re on the verge of completing a long-procrastinated task, sometimes it’s good to accept the gift of inspiration and allow your day’s plans to change.

Though I had different plans for my day (including writing to you), I knew that I should ride the wave of motivation to complete this epic (hey, one gal’s mountain is another’s molehill) task:

I finally got a smartphone.

That’s right.

Thirtyawesome lady that I am, up until now, I have lived my life and run my business without a smartphone.

I must be something of an urban legend!

I’ve been meaning to get an iPhone for the past year and a half.

There are so many reasons it makes good sense for me at this stage in my life and business—one of which is wanting to be able to experiment with and recommend apps and resources for my clients (see the P.S.)!

But part of me didn’t want to get one.

Not just because figuring out the carrier and the plan and the model and all of that was putting me in choice overload (thanks to one of my awesome clients for sharing that link with me!).

But also because I kind of love not having a smartphone.

I don’t have any problem at all with other people having them.

(In fact, I LOVE it when my companions have smartphones! The convenience without the temptation…)

But I love some of the things not having a smartphone allows me—and in some cases forces me—to do.

And I’m a little afraid of what I might lose.

I love the natural boundary that’s created when I leave my email at home.

When I’m excited or hopeful about hearing from someone, I love being able to come home and, in the same way I used to check my answering machine as a kid, run over to the computer and check my messages.

It’s nice having something to check.

It’s nice having to wait.

I like how sometimes I have to wonder about something for a while, coming up with my own theories, rather than having someone else’s answers at my fingertips.

While it’s not always easy, I like how being unplugged from a device makes me plug into myself, and really be with myself—with my own thoughts and feelings.

Even the hard ones.

Especially the hard ones.

I like the way not having a smartphone forces me to engage with the world around me. Even when it’s awkward. Even when it’s uncomfortable. Even when it’s lonely.

When we keep our eyes engaged with our physical enviroment and out of our devices, it can make us feel really vulnerable.

But that very vulnerability opens us up to face-to-face (or face-to-nature) interaction with the in-person world around us. Stuff we might miss otherwise.

(I almost wrote “with the real world around us,” but I don’t judge the virtual world as not real. The “smart” world is certainly a real part of our world now—a different platform for engaging with real humans, who may or may not be showing up as their authentic selves.)

The truth is, for me, not having a smartphone has made me feel more connected to myself and to the world around me.

But months ago, I reached the tipping point, and knew it was time.

Or, at the very least, that the time was coming.

And when I still hadn’t taken action all these months later, as the universe so often does, it nudged me along and said, “Really, Carrie: It’s time.

It did that by making my 4-year-old slide phone stop working. Last Wednesday, my trusty (if simple-minded) old pal decided it was through.

And of course this coincided with Apple mania on September 20th.

So coffee turned into “I better just bite the bullet and deal with this already” turned into a series of conversations with several extremely helpful Apple employees turned into Carrie Spaulding, Smartphone User!

Can she keep her priorities straight?

In hopes that the answer will be YES, one of the first things I did with my new phone was to record a voice memo entitled “Note to Self: Remain Human,” reminding myself that I don’t want to become someone who is always on my phone.

“It’s probably a lost cause, but we’re going to try,” the memo ends.

My friends had varying degrees of enthusiasm for my plunge into 2013:

L: Hallelujah. Instagram, snapchat, and say the same thing. STAT!

Z: Well, it was nice being able to make eye contact with you when hanging out while it lasted….

Truth in both, right?

These amazing devices do allow us to connect in new ways; to have fun with sometimes-faraway people we love; to share who we are and learn more about others [or at least about their public faces].

AND, these devices do create the illusion of uber-connection, while often disconnecting us from the people right in front of us.

As it happened, this highly recommended video showed up all over Facebook the very day I finally got a smartphone. Like a little gift (thanks, Louis C.K.!). Perfect timing to remind me of what I already know.

Because isn’t that part of what the best of this virtually-connected age is all about?

Reminding us of those truths we already know.

Hearing those truths in someone else’s voice, or reading them in a blog, or seeing them in an Instagram photo, we have the opportunity to reconnect with some part of who we already are.

And who we are—behind that profile curtain—is a whole different level of awesome.

Now, if we can only remember to hang out with that person in the flesh sometimes.


P.S. Please comment with your favorite apps that you think would be useful to our thirtysomething tribe. (Thanks to one client for telling me about IDoneThis, a personal productivity app that has changed her life!)

1 thought on “My iPhone, Myself”

  1. Mazel Tov! As my Aunt Gertrude used to say, “Use it in good health!” (And good for you with the voice memo – I have had my iphone for four months and have no clue how to do that yet!)

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