Doing It All in the Digital Age May Not Be in Your Best Interest

The perils of the pecking Americans are subjected to on their phones
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If pink is the new brown and orange is the new black, then chaos is the new multitask. As I write, my daughter is hollering from the bathroom that there is no hair conditioner in her shower, and my husband is yelling from his office that the Smiths can’t drive carpool tomorrow. Great.

“There’s a bottle under the sink,” I tell my daughter. “I can do it,” I tell my husband, then stare at my computer screen and try to remember what it was I was writing about. All the while, my phone peck, peck, pecks me to death like a flock of ornery chickens. 

Peck. “Progressive dinner. Who’s in? Sunday the 20th or the Saturday before Easter?” 

Peck. “Sunday’s out, but Saturday looks good.”

Peck. “We’re out for both. Baseball tourney.” 

Peck. “Looks like Saturday’s a go. Haley????”

I pick up my phone to respond Saturday works for us too, but —
 before I can — several more ornery chickens escape the coop. 

Peck. Angie: “Do boys wear white or blue uniform on Saturday?

Peck. Mandy: “Are you picking up lunch tomorrow or am I?”

Peck. Heather: “Coach says boys wear white.”

Peck. Kim: “Looks like I need to bleach Cody’s uniform, LOL.”

Peck. Heather “likes” Kim’s message and adds a googly-eyed emoji to hers.

Someone “thumbs up” Kim. Peck. 

Then “laughs” at Heather. Peck, peck. 

Then, naturally, everyone else adds their own two cents.

Peck. 

Peck. 

Peck. 

Peck, peck, peck, peck, peck, peck, peck the chickens go until it feels as if a thousand pinballs have been launched into my brain and are ricocheting at ferocious speeds. Forget the writing. It is a red wine and Dove Chocolate night for me, please. Thanks.

When did this happen? When did it become a universal expectation that our phones should never be out of arm’s reach? Whether you are a student of Adam and Eve or one of evolution, it cannot be denied that human beings were neither designed nor have they evolved to permanently house a smartphone. Yet, that’s the expectation, isn’t it? 

“Meeting running over. Can you pick up the kids?” 

“I need the report in an hour.”

“Do I need to pick something up for dinner?”

The expectation has evolved over time that our phone is on or near us at all times with the added expectation that we immediately, or almost immediately, respond to any and all messages we might receive. The contrary to which could have potentially disastrous results: a child left at school, a boss with no report, or — heaven forbid — a bowl of cold cereal for dinner. And that is just the text messages. 

Technology has afforded us the luxury to order outfits, pay bills, transfer funds, buy groceries and pay a parking ticket in the time it takes to cook a bag of microwaved popcorn. These are errands that would have taken the better part of a day 10 years ago. Where has it gotten us? Do we feel more accomplished? Are we more productive? Are we at peace with a mile-long to-do list we are able to check, check, check as we click, click, click? Research says no, and Americans should be alarmed.

The pace of our lives and the pecking Americans are subjected to on their phones has reached levels bordering absurdity. We are overworked, overscheduled, tired, stressed and anxious. At some point, we are going to break. To recharge, we MUST unplug.

 

Haley Evans is a working mom of three who is fed up with the smartphone ruling her life. Her new book, “Hung Up: Why You Should Put the Phone Down (and Other Life Advice)” offers tips and tools to combat cellphone addiction without resorting to drastic “digital detox” methods. Learn more and sign Evans’ petition to Apple for a “Personal Do Not Disturb” option at thebighangup.com.

Categories: Mental Health, Technology

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