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When Is Being Connected All The Time Too Much?

samsung-galaxy-s-iiI purchased my first cell phone 12 years ago. I don’t remember much about it except that it was giant, I could play snake on it, and I was in love.

Since that purchase I have been attached at the hip with some sort of phone, never straying far from my beloved. I left my house this morning with not one, but three cell phones.

With the purchase of my first iPhone in 2007, my cell phone obsession got a little out of control. I have my phone with me wherever I go, but I also check it constantly. I check my three email addresses non-stop, play Scrabble with several friends simultaneously, and periodically check news feeds to see if anything exciting is going on.

Hanging out with me for an evening typically involves watching me tweet, email, and check my phone every 5-10 minutes, even though chances are good that there’s no real “reason” I need to check it. I just need to be connected ALL the time.

Recently I went out with a group of friends. I started chatting with one particular friend who is equally if not more mobile-obsessed than I am, and he stopped and turned his phone off…

Off.

I don’t think my primary cell phone has been turned off (aside from times I’m flying) since the day I got it. I don’t know if I could handle it. What if someone texted? What if I got an important email? What if Ed McMahon called to let me know I’ve won $10 million?

Turning your phone off so you can focus on actually hanging out with real people? Preposterous!!

I was pretty shocked by the move when it happened, which made me start to take a look at my own personal connection to mobile technology. If the idea of turning my phone off to spend time with a friend is crazy talk, then maybe the crazy thing is how connected I am. The whole idea of being that connected is, after all, to be able to easily reach and connect with people (like this friend). What better time to do that when the friend is physically in front of me, trying to have a real-world conversation.

I attended Mobilize this past week and listened to a developer talk about creating mobile applications that would not only give you directions to your child’s daycare and help you find a parking spot when you get there, but also download information about what your kids had to eat all day, their physical activities, and generate a shopping list of food items to buy on your way home based on what they decided they wanted to eat for dinner….selections they made from pictures displayed on your car windows during the drive home, and based on what they had already consumed for the day.

All that is too much for me, and seems like it is replacing conversation you should in theory have with your children such as “How was your day?” and “What would you like for dinner?” That said, it’s not that huge of a stretch from me spending most of my time out with real people focused on my digital life via my smartphone.

So, I’m curious. Do any of you have an unhealthy attachment to your mobile phone? Would you consider turning off your handset to focus on spending time with a friend or family member?


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Emily Price

Emily has been obsessed with computers since the early 80s when she discovered she could play Ghostbusters on her father's Commodore 64. She...Emily has been obsessed with computers since the early 80s when she discovered she could play Ghostbusters on her father's Commodore 64. She...


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