A quest to tame technology-driven interruptions and distractions in my daily life.

When I got my first iPhone (also my first smartphone) in December of 2007, I texted my brother who had sprung for one a few months earlier when they first became available. His response was “Welcome to life after iPhone.” Was he ever right.

As I’ve been researching the best “dumbphone” for my needs (and I’ll explain those in the next post), I’ve been reflecting on my love affair with the iPhone and why it is so hard to find a replacement. Being an Apple cultist, I knew I was going to get one eventually, even though it was spendy and the monthly bill is a lot, and I’d been anti-smartphone prior. I was taking the wait-and-see approach when my wife and stepmom actually gave me one. And I was instantly obsessed.

At first, it was delightful. A little slice of the always-on internet in my pocket. And the timing was perfect. We had a new business and I enjoyed the get in/get out convenience of on-the-go correspondence and the all in one media device abilities. What’s more, we had a new baby and I was spending a lot of hours strolling and rocking, and the iPhone gave me lots of ways to entertain myself and knock out little tasks.

Like a frog in a boiling pot, what I didn’t realize was how much it slowly took over my time and my mind as I allowed it to slowly take power over me. At first, it was a handy out and about map or a factoid finder—but slowly it was a compulsion to look up every passing musing or just goof around. Then the apps came and suddenly it was not only email I felt the need to check and knock out, it was Facebook and Twitter and RSS feeds and App updates and then Gowalla and so forth.

Following a series of aggravating emails ill-advisedly checked at bedtime, I started shutting off work email upon leaving the office. But as I started pondering this whole ‘off switch’ idea, I could no longer make sense of the ‘need’ to have this little distraction machine on my person any longer. For me, it is time to downgrade.

This was an easy decision to make actually. What hasn’t been so easy has been my test of neutering my iPhone to see what the disconnect is like. Under the General > Network settings of my iPhone, I switched off Cellular Data about a week ago. That still gives me everything on my phone but any apps that require internet/data connectivity when I’m not near wi-fi no longer work.

The really good thing is that this eliminates like 90% of the excuses for me to look at my phone. The bad thing is that things like maps, referencing emails on the go, and looking up things like phone numbers, etc. also off limits. When I got an iPhone, I stopped planning in advance. All to say that it was an important realization and an adjustment.

But there has been no shakes or vomiting yet. I am still using my iPhone until I can make the switch off (which has been more complicated than I thought) although I use it very little now. I even considered a scenario wherein I ditched AT&T but kept my iPhone using a service like PureTalk USA for just voice and texting. This would castrate my phone most of the time but would make it fully functional when in wi-fi zones. Not only did I decide that this sort of defeated the purpose (even though it would have been vastly cheaper than AT&T’s required data plans for smartphones), I wanted the sale of my iPhone to underwrite the new phone’s hardware as well as an iPad. More on that in the next post.

So, this is my eulogy to the iPhone. It has been fun… a little too fun. I’m bidding a farewell to the squinternet, and happily so. Just as I did with video games around 2000, I’m sending my iPhone packing because it is taking away from my experience of life. There’s just no denying it any longer.

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