Is That an iPhone in Your Pocket, Or . . .?

It’s late. It’s dark. The kids are finally asleep. A vibrating sound emanates from the master bedroom followed by oohs and aahs. Yes, it’s a battery-operated toy, but it’s not what you think. Get your mind out of the gutter. I’m talking about my Blackberry.

That piercing oooooh is my excitement when J.Crew.com sends an email announcing 20%off. The aaaah–more of a sigh, really–is a rejection email from a literary journal. Just what I need at the end of the night.

My friends, this is a problem. An epidemic. Too many of us are attached to our smartphones.

We’re so addicted we put them on the table when we eat with friends and loved ones. Even worse, we pick them up during the meal. Hold on, we say. Just need to answer this. How did we get so utterly obnoxious?

We forget to make eye contact with our children. We glance at those phones–for shame–when we drive. We take them to bed. To bed, people! To bed!

We need to do something drastic. At least I know I do. I worry about permanently slipping into a virtual world. And considering I just started this blog last week, there’s no question I need some boundaries to protect my children, my friendships, and especially my marriage.

My husband HATES my phone, loathes it, abhors it—no word is strong enough. And he has good reason. I carry that thing around like an extra limb. He knows the moment my phone’s message alert starts blinking that I’m only half-listening to him. Because, my goodness, that red light. That delightful, intoxicating little light.

So yes, I have a problem.

I know countless men out there are out of control when it comes to their phones, checking sports scores in the rare minutes not already usurped by answering emails. I’m lucky that my husband has a good attitude about his Blackberry. And in honor of our upcoming tenth anniversary, I’m giving him a gift. It’s a pledge.

Yes, I know I’m cheap.

I, Nina Badzin, promise to turn off my cell phone at 9:30 PM every night. *Heart beating wildly. Might hyperventilate.* Let’s make it 10:30 and for Hanukkah I’ll stop bringing my laptop to bed, too.

Wish me luck! I’ll report back on my progress.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear how other people deal with detaching from their phones. Do you ever feel your virtual life is trumping your real life? Can you still separate the two? Feel free to chime in.

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Nina is a contributing writer at Brain, Child: The Magazine for Thinking Mothers, Tcjewfolk.com, and at Kveller.com. She's also a freelance writer with articles in several magazines, anthologies, and websites. Her short stories have appeared in over a dozen literary magazines. She was thrilled to participate in the 2013 cast of Listen to Your Mother, and she enjoys co-leading the book review site GreatNewBooks.org. Nina lives in Minneapolis with her husband and four children.

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36 Responses to Is That an iPhone in Your Pocket, Or . . .?
  1. Pop
    November 22, 2010 | 11:47 am

    I went through something similar 5 months ago with my iFriend – my wife’s nickname for my iPhone
    http://gopopgo.wordpress.com/2010/06/14/924/

    Things really came to a head when my wife asked, “What if when our kids grow up, they use their phones like you use yours?” And that’s the moment I realized I need to step away from the smart phone and from Facebook, Twitter, and blog friends, and spend time with and give attention to my family.

    I wish I could say I kept to my word, but I didn’t…but I did severely curb my usage. Good luck with your commitment!

  2. Nina Badzin
    November 22, 2010 | 12:16 pm

    Hey Pop! I know it will be very hard to step away a bit. Especially now with the new blog! I love that little nickname–the iFriend. Although, scary, right?

  3. Anne Greenwood Brown
    November 22, 2010 | 12:31 pm

    *snort* That little red light! I’m guilty as well. My daughter is following in my foot steps. She’s going on pilgrimage to Rome and Spain next summer and her leader has already advised her (and others) to go on Media Detox before they leave! I think, however, for all the obnoxious behavior associated with Blackberries et al., the benefits far outweigh the negatives. (Right? Um, right?) At least, that’s what I’m going with.

  4. Amy Sue Nathan
    November 22, 2010 | 12:38 pm

    I never shut off my phone. As a single parent, I feel like that would be irresponsible. My kids are teenagers and must know they can always reach me. That being said, I don’t get alerts when I receive email, and can ask the kids to call instead of text and I can shut off the text alert. Even if I’m in a movie I have it on vibrate.

    I check the incoming calls if I’m out but if it’s not one of my kids – I do not answer. I can ignore it if they’re both in the house with me — but I said they’re teenagers, remember? And one is away at college. So that rarely happens.

    You’re lucky you have the option to shut it off.

  5. Nina Badzin
    November 22, 2010 | 12:42 pm

    Anne, believe me, I LOVE the benefits! Yes, I think they outweigh the negatives. I think . . . I’m starting to forget a time existed when we didn’t have them.

    Amy, I’m only exercising that option after 10:30 PM. FOR NOW! :)

  6. Jennifer Karol
    November 22, 2010 | 1:14 pm

    Sometimes I feel like I am having a threesome- Adam, me, his Ipad. And trust me, i can’t look the IPAD in the face in the morning…. Do we have a problem?

  7. Alison Stanton
    November 22, 2010 | 1:45 pm

    Love the blog, Nina! I don’t know if this helps, as I don’t have a “smartphone” per say, but I’ve actually chosen not to activate the data plan for my phone (but then what’s the point of having a smartphone, right?). I only use my cell for phone calls and texts, and limit my cyber life to the actual computer. And I try to limit this to my little guy’s nap and bed times, although I may steel a glance or two throughout the day if he’s playing conetently. ;)

  8. Weronika Janczuk
    November 22, 2010 | 2:47 pm

    I don’t have a problem with the phone. It’s the computer — the email, the Word document, and the work-related spreadsheets which are the epidemic for me. But I get it. :-)

    I hope you succeed in this endeavor of yours. Keep us updated.

    • Nina Badzin
      November 22, 2010 | 5:08 pm

      Alison- I’m impressed you haven’t succumbed to the full email on the phone thing yet. Stay strong!

      Weronika, honestly, I still don’t have you get any NYU-related assignments done with all the literary agent work. Especially without doing some of it on your phone!!!

  9. Julia (Everyday Mom Ideas)
    November 22, 2010 | 2:57 pm

    Hahahaha…. I get jealous of my husband because he gets more texts and calls than I do by far! The virtual world is looming and it’s scary and yes all of our children probably feel the effects of it. Detaching from the virtual world is difficult. After all I am on here right now when I could be doing sooooooo many other things. lol. :)
    Visiting from SITS!

    • Nina Badzin
      November 22, 2010 | 5:08 pm

      Julia! So nice to “meet” you! Thanks so much for visiting. Going to check out your blog in a minute! :)

  10. Tracy Hahn-Burkett
    November 22, 2010 | 3:09 pm

    I’d show your post to my husband, but he’s too busy reading e-mails on his Crackberry. Wait, if I send him the link…

  11. Jen Erickson
    November 22, 2010 | 4:19 pm

    My three teenage sons have to give me their cell phones before going to bed at night. They get charged in my room. My brother-in-law, a big kid himself, has the kids “check their phones at the door” for holiday events. This keeps the allure of the phone out of focus and allows us all to have fun playing games, decorating cookies and obsessing over finishing the puzzle on the card table! :)

  12. Cym Kibort
    November 22, 2010 | 4:38 pm

    To sum it up…it’s a Love Hate Relationship for me. Just the reality of our lives. But kudos to you for your 10th Anniversary present! Better than the tradition “tin or aluminum” that you are supposed to give!

  13. Nina Badzin
    November 22, 2010 | 5:11 pm

    Tracy- I know that’s exactly how my husband feels!

    Jen- You’re amazing. First of all, I didn’t realize your boys are all teenagers. WOW!! You’ll have to teach me everything you know when we finally meet IN REAL LIFE. :)

    Cym- Tin or aluminum!!? Actually, Bryan wants a new All Clad pancake pan. Maybe I’ll get that for him too. I know, we’re wild and crazy over here.

  14. Lawrence
    November 23, 2010 | 4:08 am

    GREAT BLOG!! I dislike blogs as much as “your husband” dislikes smart phones, but I really enjoyed this and your others. So the one 24 hours of freedom from the virtual world that we have is Shabbat…otherwise…”my goodness, that red light. That delightful, intoxicating little light.”!!!

  15. Francesca
    November 23, 2010 | 7:25 am

    I try to set the bar very low when it comes to my husband. No need to get his hopes up that I will be able to break my addiction to my iPhone. I’d rather him just be happy that I am still willing to do his laundry.

    Haha!

    You are a very talented writer, Nina. Keep up the great work. :)

  16. Beth
    November 23, 2010 | 12:15 pm

    When my 2 year old told me to text her, I knew we had a problem.

  17. Nina Badzin
    November 23, 2010 | 4:39 pm

    Lawrence! Thank you!!! This is the closest thing Bry will have to an online presence. Don’t you think?

    Francesca! Ha!!! I love the laundry line. And you’re sweet about the writing. It’s a work in progress–always.

    Beth! Oy vey! So true. The kids don’t know a world without it. :(

  18. Mama Kat
    November 24, 2010 | 1:23 pm

    “I worry about permanently slipping into a virtual world.”

    Worry??

    It’s every mommy bloggers biggest fantasy my dear.

  19. Lori Pace
    November 24, 2010 | 11:19 pm

    Hi, I am your newest subscriber! Thank you so much for your wonderful comment on scarymommy.com, my post “Perfect Visions”. I sincerely appreciate it!

    GREAT BLOG, btw! ;D

  20. Nina Badzin
    November 25, 2010 | 9:10 am

    Kat and Lori! I’m honored to have you visit! I’m loving both of your blogs and learning a lot from you!

  21. Diane
    November 27, 2010 | 9:05 am

    I love your blog. All of your post are terrific. I can say, even my 16 month old grandaughter is attached to her play phone! It is her favorite toy and always has to have it. She sits and talks. I guess she has watched us way to long!

  22. Theta Mom
    November 28, 2010 | 8:06 am

    I am so immersed in blogging and social media so I am attached to my Laptop – so I *totally* related to this post.

    You are a fanststic writer and I am so glad you found TMC because now I found you!! Look forward to getting to know you better!

  23. Ann's Rants
    November 28, 2010 | 9:41 pm

    A) You and your husband are so cute

    B) This is why I’ve avoided a smart phone at all costs. and yet here I sit in front of my lap top. As Six used to say when he was Three ‘Same Same’

    • Nina Badzin
      November 28, 2010 | 9:48 pm

      Diane- thanks again!

      “Theta Mom”- thank you!! And you know I love your site AND the fabulous button for my blog!

      Ann- Finally! I’ve been waiting for someone to say (A). Just kidding! Sort of! I had one less kid in that picture, less wrinkles, and less gray hair! And yes, the lap top is “same same.”

  24. Dori Weinstein
    November 29, 2010 | 11:20 am

    Nina,
    Thank you for posting this. I’m so glad to know that I’m not alone in my electronic addiction. Knowing that there are others out there just like me makes me feel almost “normal”.

    A good friend of mine recently coined the term “androiding” as in, “My husband is ‘androiding’ me right now and I’m waiting for his attention.”

    You are rockin’ the blog, babe! Keep it up! :)

  25. [...] See if you can convince your friends and family to give you an I-OWE-U for a later date. Because in five years, you’ll actually love cooking. In eight years you’ll host large Shabbat dinners every Friday night. (Yes, YOU.) And then you will wander aimlessly around Sur la Table cursing your 23-year-old self for squandering your best chance of owning the most sensible stuff for your kitchen. For free. (Bad news: now instead of buying gifts, you and Bryan have resorted to symbolic gestures like THIS. [...]

  26. Erika Robuck
    December 6, 2010 | 9:16 pm

    Oh, I’m so addicted to my iPhone. I love nothing more than reading on my Kindle app, in the dark, while checking email, Twitter, and Facebook. It’s multitasking on a mindblowing level. And it’s a problem.

    • Nina Badzin
      December 6, 2010 | 11:22 pm

      Oh Erika, don’t even tempt me with the Kindle! I’ve held out so far . . . waiting to see how the Kindle/IPad debate plays out.

  27. Frume Sarah
    December 12, 2010 | 11:09 pm

    Shabbat is my weekly reminder that I am in control of my addiction ;) I have a separate Shabbat setting on my beloved BB that allows calls but does not alert me to mail. And NO enthralling red light.

    It takes a LOT of will-power. A lot….

  28. [...] thinking about the incident hours later. I honestly don’t know why I got so upset. Lord knows I dig my Blackberry as much as the next person, but there was something so thoughtless and unaware going on in that [...]

  29. Kate
    April 1, 2011 | 11:33 pm

    So, how have you been doing on this?! lol

    I’m crazy about my blog like you are about your blackberry-it just calls out to me every time I see my computer. Or I think of a new design I want or a new design I want to do for someone. Or emails I need to send, comments I need to reply to…..well you get the idea. ;)

    • Nina Badzin
      April 2, 2011 | 12:11 pm

      Hi! I wish I could report 100% success . . . not exactly!! ;)

  30. [...] thinking about the incident hours later. I honestly don’t know why I got so upset. Lord knows I dig my Blackberry as much as the next person, but there was something so thoughtless and unaware going on in that [...]

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