Objects That Own Us

After an unfortunate incident involving a lofted bed, a tiled floor and being distracted by “The L Word” playing on my laptop, my phone shattered about a month ago. I got the screen replaced after walking several times to a repair place in the rain, only to find that I wasted money on a new screen as they later told me after several trips to get it looked at that it was permanent damage on the mother board.

Since then, my phone has been working off and on, usually for 30 second intervals marked by the screen starting to flicker, horizontal lines running across the screen before fading to black and not wanting to turn on again for anywhere between a few minutes and a few days. Needless to say this was an inconvenience as I went about my life not being able to turn off alarms, answer text or phone calls, and eventually not being able to tell when I was getting those or when alarms were going off when the sound stopped working. I had to find an alarm clock to wake me up in the morning and pay more attention to when I needed to leave for classes, I had to conduct all communications from my laptop, and take a break from all my apps and accounts accessible only through my phone.

It was really frustrating to go through this, and has made me really short tempered when the phone wasn’t working. But truth be told these were all minor inconveniences in the grand scheme of things. Nothing ever went wrong when I couldn’t post on Instagram, my friends were all very understanding when I sometimes couldn’t answer their texts, and my parents preferred video chats instead of calling on the phone anyways. The real thing that bothered me was realizing how reliant I had become on this couple of ounces of glass and plastic.

At most the phone itself not working only ever made me frustrated, I was upset and angry at myself for the fact that over the handful of years of having a smart phone, I have become emotionally reliant on it. When I’m bored I play mindless games on my phone, when I want a book, I check it out on my library’s app and read it on my phone, instead of trusting my friends to meet up with me, I text with them to make sure they’re on their way and telling them exactly where I am, when I see something pretty I take a picture of it and send it out. I don’t actually need to do any of these things though.

I think that for the most part I am a minimalist, I don’t like the idea that I need stuff to make me happy. And I guess because my phone doesn’t take up that much space I never thought to include it on the list of things I try to stop from owning my life. I’m going to get a new phone later today, but coming out of this realization with my last phone I’m going to treat it differently. I’m not going to abandon my phone or the things I like doing on it. But I’m going to try to keep my time on the phone in check; maybe not download all the little games that I tend to play instead of doing something productive, have a set time that I turn it off each day, maybe stop myself from checking my accounts ever time there’s a situation I typically use my phone to avoid talking to other people.

These don’t sound like huge changes, but I’m hoping I can just change a few things so that I can go back to using my phone to make my life easier rather than letting my phone use clutter my life.

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