Does your smartphone ‘rule’ your life?

I am no Luddite. I learnt Fortran on my own from a book, with some help from fellow students. In 1979, I used a modem that ran at 110 bauds (bps). Not a typo — not Mbps, just bps. I bought my own PC in 1984 for $ 3,000. (It had two floppy drives, a 10 MB hard disk, and 0.25MB RAM). I used email before there was Hotmail. And, I bought a feature phone soon after they became available.

But, I am not wedded to my smartphones. Yes, I do have one, and it is full-featured. But, I have very few apps on it — by choice. I have Uber and Lyft — because there is no other way to use them. I have my email. But, I hardly ever answer my emails from it. I also have apps for two newspapers, but I don’t read them much on my smartphone. I have YouTube, which I hardly ever use. I don’t send/receive work-related text messages. I do get some (3–5 per week) text messages from family members, which I answer. And I have WhatsApp because an Indian without WhatsApp is pretty much like a fish out of water.

For the rest, I use my laptop, which is hooked to a large-screen monitor, real keyboard and mouse.

When I am at home, I hardly ever look at my smartphone. But, I never leave home without it. In fact, when I go abroad, I have two phones — one with a US number and another with a local number.

I don’t feel ill-informed or out of touch — in work (which is global and US) or in family matters. No one has said that I am not productive or speedy enough. Remember, I am a consultant, and a consultant cannot afford to lag behind! So, I see no downsides at all.

What are the benefits? Basically, I still have my life as it used to be. In a group of friends, I have no incentive to pull out my smartphone — it would serve no purpose. (Though I sometimes use Hello Google to get some routine information such as weather in another city). The same with family members.

And, when I going to a meeting in an Uber or Lyft car, I can still sit back. Perhaps think about something -work or personal. Or, do nothing at all. That’s much more productive and rewarding for me than using my smartphone.

Perhaps I am able to do this because now I am a senior citizen. But, I am far from retired — I am working at least 60 hours a week. Perhaps it is because I experienced life before there were smartphones. Perhaps it is because smartphones are somewhat like golden handcuffs. It does not matter what the reason is.

What I want to say is that it is still possible to have the best of both worlds — the happiness and pleasures of pre-smartphone says along with the convenience and facility of smartphones. Try it. Who knows? It may work for you too!

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