The first time I realized I was addicted to my smartphone was when I went a week and a half without it. It was excruciating. I had learned to love it, to hold it close to me, to cherish its existence and never let it go. And then, all of a sudden, it was gone.
I was forced to use my ancient enV2.
There was no Internet access. I couldn’t go on Facebook. I couldn’t tweet. I could only dial out and listen to my old ringtones. I was forced into nothingness. I sat on my lunch breaks at work staring off into the distance because I just didn’t know what to do with myself. I was without my one lowly form of entertainment.
It was during one of those lunch breaks, while I was spinning around on the chair in the back room, when I realized how absolutely pathetic I was.
“I might be addicted to my phone,” I thought to myself.
But then I backtracked.
“Hayley, you’re not really addicted to your cell phone. That’s ridiculous. You’re embarrassing yourself.”
When I thought about the real world and its problems, such as famine, water shortages and who designed Kim Kardashian’s wedding dress, I couldn’t believe myself. I couldn’t believe what I was actually thinking.
I thought about all the times I had been lectured by my parents and grandparents about how it was so unbelievable that I couldn’t put my phone down during a meal and how they survived just fine without them when they were my age.
So, I began to rationalize.
It’s not that I can’t put it down. Maybe what’s going on at this dinner table just isn’t interesting enough. Or maybe I just found pictures of Lindsay Lohan’s sister’s new plastic surgery-ridden face and I need to look at it.
But whatever. I’m not even embarrassed. I’m part of Generation Y. All we do is talk about celebrities and complain about being uncomfortable in our own skin. We get bored with things every five minutes and if it doesn’t glitter in the sunlight or if it isn’t made out of hard, bulky, white plastic we don’t want anything to do with it. We sit in front of our computers, we play “Call of Duty” and we illegally download music.
That’s the way it unfolded. Technology advanced, and here we are to take full advantage of it. Our minds and bodies are willing and able to be molded into this new lifestyle. Instead of trying to fight it and claim we can sit down with a good book and be just fine without our computers and iPods, why don’t we all just embrace it? Let’s not use it to pass around sex tapes or anything. Let’s use it for good. Like passing around videos of a cat playing the piano or your 6-year-old brother yelling the F-word repeatedly.
Sometimes I’m kind of embarrassed that, as a culture, we’re so reliant on this technology. I like to remind myself that there was a time without it. But there isn’t really a way around it now.
The second time I realized I was addicted to my smartphone was when the power went out. The Great San Diego Blackout of 2011 (I just coined that phrase).
I was at work when the power went out, in the middle of walking my coworker to the front door, when all of a sudden a pop, and then darkness. I made my way out the door and every other mall employee around was slowly creeping out, with the most oblivious “What the hell is going on?” look on their faces. Immediately — and maybe this is because I’ve seen 38 too many bad end-of-the-world horror movies — I waited for some alien spaceships to fall out of the sky (think “War of the Worlds”), a giant tentacle to come slamming through the AMC Theatre (think “Cloverfield”) or a bunch of poisonous snake monsters to come slithering up the automatic walkway (think “Snakes on a Plane”).
But they didn’t. It was just a power outage. A giant one, but still just a power outage. And for the next seven hours, there were no computers, no television, barely any phone calls and very sporadic texting. There were no streetlights, there were no stoplights and there was a ton of traffic. There was a lot of waiting, not enough flashlights and warnings via emergency radio broadcasts that residents should all start boiling tap water.
The first time I realized it was an extremely useful thing that I was addicted to my smartphone was when I figured out the only thing functioning on it was Twitter. And soon enough, I had a crowd of people around me while I read tweets from San Diego Gas & Electric and local NBC News anchor, also the only person I have ever been starstruck by, Susan Taylor.
At that moment, when all I had between myself and the outside world was a tiny computer in the palm of my hand, I felt completely justified in every situation when I was ridiculed for constantly being on my phone. I realized our technology-obsessed generation finally did some good. And, for once, we did something other than telling people Abercrombie & Fitch paid the “Jersey Shore” cast to stop wearing its clothes.
So, I felt really cool to be part of Generation Y. I felt this sense of accomplishment because, even though I was totally suffering without technology for seven hours, I could one day tell my children about this mess and how I was an active participant. And then, I summed up exactly how I felt in less than 140 characters and tweeted about it.