A Breakup Letter…For My Phone

Cherish Relationships
cut screen time

Dear readers: Today, I’m sharing a letter I wrote last week that seemed especially relevant considering my impending international travel. I saved it to post on the blog this week, at the very beginning of my trip, in hopes of reminding even myself that yes, you can put the phone away. 

 

Dear LG V30,

There’s no easy way to say this, so I’m just going to say it; I’m breaking up with you. I just think we need to give each other some space, you know? It’s not that you haven’t been or done everything I asked. Because you have. Sometimes you’re actually too good, too compelling. In fact, you’re irresistible. And that’s the problem.

It’s not you, LG. It’s me.


It’s not that there’s someone else, although I suspect there could be. Don’t take this personally but I am pretty sure I could replace you with any number of other phones – iPhone, Samsung, Motorola, Kyocera (well, maybe not Kyocera) and I would be just as infatuated. Before you ask, this isn’t something that’s come over me suddenly. I haven’t wanted to admit it, even to myself, but the realization that our relationship has become unhealthy has been building slowly over time. Today I reached the tipping point.

This morning I went for a bike ride. I took it slow, since I just finished my third triathlon with my faithful and fabulous bike. It was a beautiful day; the sky was blue and the temperature was ideal. Normally, I’d have brought you along for the ride but my bike shorts don’t have pockets and it was too warm to wear a jacket. Leaving you behind made me feel a little uncomfortable, even guilty. But I wasn’t going to be gone long, only half an hour or so, and I promised myself I’d check you the instant I returned.

It was a good ride and unusually peaceful. As I pedaled, uninterrupted by your siren song of chirps and beeps and breaking news alerts, I could hear the call of birds, the wind in the trees, and the sound of my own breathing as I tackled the hills. Even more important, I could think, and focus, and enjoy the moment in the moment.

It was beautiful, LG. It woke me up to what I’ve been missing. The sad truth is, so many things in life are better when you’re not with me.

But two things really clinched the deal for me, LG. The first occurred about halfway through the ride. I spotted two other bikers on my route, a father and daughter. They were pulled over by the side of the trail, heads down, ignoring the beauty of the day, ignoring each other, staring at their screens. All I could think was, how sad.

A few minutes later, I pedaled toward a pond. In the distance, I spotted a woman about my age, sitting on a bench next to water and under the shade of a leafy Aspen tree. A mama duck was followed by a column of fluffy ducklings paddling in the water. It was a charming scene and a lovely spot, the perfect place to enjoy a book. With her head bent just so and the wide brim of a sun hat blocking sight of her hands, that’s what I thought the woman was doing. But as I got closer, I realized that she, too, was staring at a screen, checking Facebook. Once again, I thought how sad, how wrong. What a waste of a perfect moment.

But it could so easily have been me. Too often, it is.

It’s time to face the truth, LG. We can’t go on like this. I can’t go on like this. I need some space.

Look, I’m not cutting you off completely. We both know I can’t do that, even if I wanted to. This relationship isn’t all bad, LG.

You help me stay on top of my business and keep in touch with friends, those I’m close to as well as those I’ve only met online. Sometimes you show me funny memes and videos that make me laugh and brighten my day. Some of those breaking news reports actually are important. And those verses that pop up from the Bible app I downloaded always seem to come just when I need them.

The truth is, you bring some good and even important things into my life. But you can’t be my life, LG. I can’t let you keep invading the space that should be reserved for other things and other people. I just think we need to cut back. Way back.

I guess what I’m really trying to say, LG, is that this relationship has become too intense. But I still want to be friends.

To do that, I have to set some boundaries.

 

                                      

 

Limit notifications

The first thing I’m doing is getting into each of the apps I’ve downloaded and checking out the notifications. I’m assessing each separate app and deciding which things I actually need or want to know about immediately. Do I really need to know about every like of everything I post as soon as it happens? Probably not. Can I wait to respond to new friend requests until I’m actually at my computer? Probably. Do I want to know when one of my friends posts an actual comment on my post? Possibly. I need to think that over.

The point is, I do have the ability to control the type and frequency of notifications that appear on my screen. From here on out, I’m taking back that control.

Table For One. Or At Least Minus You.

I love my dog. But I wouldn’t let her sit on the table while I’m having dinner and, from here on out, the same rule applies to you. When I’m dining out with other people, LG, you’ll be in my purse, not on the table. Better yet, I may even leave you home entirely.

When you’re on the table, the temptation to give my attention to you instead of the people I care about is just too great. Out of sight is also out of mind.

No More Pillow Talk

I know this sounds harsh, LG, but I’m kicking you out of the bedroom. Looking at you last thing at night makes it hard to settle down and sleep. I’d be so much better off with a book. And I’ve noticed that looking at you first thing in the morning never, ever, EVER gets my day off to a good start.

Of course, I do have elderly parents to consider. And kids and grandkids. If someone I love needs me in the middle of the night I need to know about it. So I can’t just turn you off at bedtime. But I can banish you to the bathroom or some other spot that’s far enough away so I won’t hear notifications but close enough so I can hear the phone if a genuinely important call comes through in the night.

Admitting I Need Help

If I adhere to the boundaries I’ve outlined above, I really think I can get over my obsession with you.

But…

You’re just so fetching, LG. Let’s face it; you’re a temptress. Even if I try, it’s possible I won’t be able to resist your charms. But fortunately for me, and people like me, there’s an app for that. Several of them, as a matter of fact.

If the plans I’ve outlined simply aren’t enough, I’ll be downloading an app such as Social Fever or Quality Time to help track how much time I’m spending on my phone and, if necessary, limit or block my access to the apps that are robbing too much of my attention.

That’s it, LG. If you want to keep hanging out with me, those are my conditions and rules. I hope you’ll respect them. I hope I will too.

If we do, I think we can have something we don’t have now; a happy, healthy, productive relationship.

Sincerely,

Marie

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