Why I don’t (read: can’t) have an iPhone

By Sarah Bessey

There are a lot of people that think I’m absolutely bonkers because I have a blog. They think I’m one of those crazy Internet people, a constantly connected technology person.

From my perspective, I’m a fairly reasonable (most of the time) person that monitors their use and time of technology judiciously. I go days without the TV on. We have very basic cable without the fancy-schmancy HDTV with access to BBC Canada or HGTV (both easily could be my downfall…). I am picky about what I read, even more picky about what I subscribe to online. I reply to emails usually once a week. I write all of my blog posts on Sundays and then schedule them to post throughout the week. I respond to comments one evening a week. I only get online a few times a day, typically when the tinies are in bed. I only recently got a cell phone and it does not have Internet access. On purpose.

When I am out and about, when I am at the playground or the grocery store, driving or waiting in the midwife’s office, there is no phone to distract me, no games to play, no email to check. I am fully unplugged for a large portion of my life. And same goes for the tinies. There are no iPhone bubbles to pop or videos to watch. They are among those extremely hard-pressed children without any TV in the vehicle. They are forced to play or talk or sulk.

And it’s become my pet peeve, the thing that makes me feel a little sad or irritated, depending on the situation. Because, here we are at the park and the quiet baby is in the swing and dad is pushing with one hand but texting with the other.

And here comes a mother with her toddler, dragging behind her morosely, while she yaks animatedly on her phone.

And here we are again and we’re out for dinner with friends and they are constantly looking at their iPhones, checking every time it pings, every few moments, and I am left feeling like they are just hanging out or visiting with me until something better or more interesting comes along.

Eye contact and attention seem like such a gift to give these days.

And I don’t feel smug because the truth is, that if I have the iPhone, I’m pretty sure that would be me. I know that there are a lot of people with a lot more personal discipline than me, the people that have them but the smart phone or the access or the connection doesn’t have them. They are able to be fully present and still have their iPhone and they swear that it has saved their work, their productivity, their sanity.

But I know I’m not one of them.

Once, my daughter saw something scary. She immediately clapped her hands over her eyes and, when asked what in the world she was doing, informed me that she was “guarding her gates” like her Papa and Granny taught her to do. She had been told by my parents (thank God for involved grandparents!) that if something ever bothered her or frightened her or just didn’t feel right to her heart, to close her eyes and ears to it so that it couldn’t come into her heart. (Full story is here, if you’re interested.)

Ever since then, I think about many aspects of my life that way. I guard my gates – my heart, my mind, my thoughts, my time – against the things that threaten my peace or sanity, the things that compromise the woman and mother I yearn to become.

And so I don’t have an iPhone because I’m guarding the gates of my attention and time with my tinies.

I’m pretty sure I’d be bored at the playground (because sometimes I am) and I’d check Twitter or I’d start working on a blog post while waiting to pick up at preschool. I am pretty sure I’d be checking at the grocery store to see if any new comments came in on that post that I absolutely loved to write. I am pretty sure I’d be at supper and I’d set the phone on the table, like a challenge, glancing at it every few moments to see if something cool or interesting has changed on its screen.

It wouldn’t be good for me – or my family – to be so connected.

I need the tactile world. I need to be fully engaged with my children and  my friends. I need to value my time for writing. I need to play at the playground and talk with my children while we wander, I need to make eye contact and listen to my husband while he talks. I need to knit and read books. I’d miss the moments because life is already busy and cluttered enough without the constant connections and constant entertainments.

So even though I love this aspect of my life, this tweeting/Facebooking/blogging/emailing connection, this sense of community and support that I have found and (hopefully) contribute towards, I kind of like keeping it as an aspect of my life.

It doesn’t bleed over into too much of my life or dominate too much of my time or attention and that is on purpose, by intent.

And there is also the fact that they cost hundreds of dollars. Yeah. That, too.

Sarah blogs at Emerging Mummy.

What about you? How do you maintain balance between the “real world” and the “virtual world” in your life? Do you have boundaries or wisdom to share with the rest of us?

10 Responses to Why I don’t (read: can’t) have an iPhone
  1. Stephanie
    October 15, 2010 | 9:36 am

    Hubs and I just had a talk last night that we need to turn our phones in (mine’s an iphone) for the most basic, cheapest phones if we can. Our initial decision is due to money issues, but I also know that it will be a positive change for myself. While I try to be really present for my kids, I am definitely guilty of having it in hand while I’m nursing Ivy. I must say the judgment at the park gets me because sometimes the park is the only place I “get a break” from the kids and might be “my” time to check in online or get some work done. I would never want other people to think I am putting it before the kids. Sometimes I depend on the park and other kids to occupy them so I can actually have a moment to myself (even though I am still always watching them no matter where we are!)

    I’m a different type of blogger, so I couldn’t do all my posts in one day, as they are journalings. But I have definitely been making the change to cut back on blog reading and email replying in a BIG way. This was hard for me at first but I’ve found that the extra time with my kids or to knit falls right into place and means so much more to me!

    I think the majority of online-addicted Moms can totally be inspired by your choices!!


  2. Anitra
    October 15, 2010 | 1:55 pm

    I actually have a lot of this problem with books. I have been a voracious reader of fiction since I learned to read, and I tend to turn to books whenever I am bored or stressed or tired. I am pregnant and have a 2-year-old – if I’m not bored or stressed or tired, it’s because I’m sleeping.

    I go through phases where I gradually realize that I’m reading _too much_ and it’s stopping me from being as good a parent as I need to be (generally when I hear my daughter say “Mommy, stop reading!). But even when I’m not reading too much, I still use books to escape, and so I read a lot more than the average stay-at-home mom.

    The benefit of books over smartphones is that they’re a lot cheaper, harder to break, and easier to “pause”… so when my daughter pulls my book away from me, or it gets dropped on the floor, there’s no harm done.

  3. Karen
    October 15, 2010 | 8:58 pm

    I really like what your parents taught your daughter about guarding her mind, ears, and eyes. How simple, and yet how profound!

    Good thoughts on the rest of the post as well. I agree–there’s too much virturalism going on…way too much.

  4. melissa aka equidae
    October 16, 2010 | 3:21 am

    I liked your post as it resonanted with me so much. I get a lot of silences when I say that TV time for my toddler is possibly not more than an hour a day(though if i am tired i admit to turn it onfor him!) and I only get online while asleep. So although I enjoy blogging and reading I have cut down a lot of that over this year and a half (as a newborn I was constantly connected). I find too many benefits in my child not seeing me all the time attached like glue to the screen oh and i dont watch TV really unless he has it on and watch with him

  5. Jen
    October 18, 2010 | 4:06 pm

    Amen! I think I would be the same way. I spend far too much time at home sitting in front of the computer as it is.

  6. Christy
    October 20, 2010 | 12:54 pm

    Amen and amen. Wonderful post.

  7. River
    October 22, 2010 | 1:35 am

    Thank you so much for sharing! a good article! 🙂

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