Help. I'm enslaved by my smartphone.

By Brooke B. Sellas, {grow} Contributing Columnist

I’m a terrible sleeper.

It started when I was around 22; my anxiety would peak juuust as it was time to get in bed and I’d go over my list. You know, the LIST of stuff for work, home and personal that is a constant ticker tape machine; paper strips overlapping from corner to corner in your mind.

Fast forward to my smartphone (Apple addict here) and I find my phone perpetuates an already unpleasant sleep.

Now when my list rears its ugly head I’m scurrying to grab my phone and have Siri remind me of something, or opening up my blog notes for a fantastic post idea. This one came through at 1:37 AM on a Sunday night, in case you were wondering.

And FORGET trying to schedule something if I don’t have my precious brain (read: phone) with me. I live and die by my schedule, but I without my phone — which is synced to like, four different calendars of mine — I can maybe rattle off three standing meetings because I have them every week at the same time.

My device:

  • Keeps the time (I don’t wear a watch)
  • Creates new contacts for me based on mail and phone calls
  • Wakes me up (HA! If I actually sleep)
  • Gives me instant access to any music or podcast I want to listen to
  • Keeps my schedule together
  • Reminds me … keeps my notes … even comes in handy for voice notes
  • Turns on/off my house alarm, lights and locks the doors
  • Makes sure I get both work and personal email 24/7
  • Delivers the news, the weather, and other various events like clockwork
  • Does a million and one other things thanks to automation and apps like IFTTT

Oh, and yes, I can contact people from my phone as well, but if you know me you know that it’s usually through text. Using my phone to talk? Rare.

If I’m out and someone mentions something I haven’t yet heard of? I reach for the phone and Google it.

From a marketing perspective, Apple sells this to us as intuitive and smart automation. Instant access.

But try to go without your device and feels a bit more like you left your brain at home.

Remembering a meeting or a lightning bolt idea requires too much effort.

I feel naked/lost/afraid without my phone. I am enslaved by my smartphone.

The Argument

There are two sides to every story, and then there’s the truth.

One side says smart technology is responsible for making our lives easier, making us more capable, and even more intelligent.

The other side says we now are dependent on devices rather than ourselves to make it through the day. Add to that our compulsive nature, rude phone etiquette, a mass of memes and food porn, and an onslaught of selfies and we have … well, what do we have? IS that stuff “smart”?

What is the truth? What is your truth?

My truth is that my device both makes me smart and dumb.

I’m more productive for obvious reasons, but I’m dumb because of the choices I make.

I choose to answer emails late. I choose to let Siri enable my poor sleeping habits. I choose to hit “accept” on that new social platform without reading or understanding the fine print.

I choose be a servant to my device rather than let my device serve me.

Past, Present & Future

In the past, we managed to get everything done without our devices. We focused on people, conversations, and IRL (in-real-life) happenings. We managed, somehow.

In the present, we are glued to our devices. Look around you at any given time and you will likely see the majority of the people holding their precious brain/assistant/knowledge base in their hands.

The future seems to dangle there with more questions than answers:

  • How much more reliant can we become?
  • How many more hours in a day can spend using technology and still remain efficient?
  • When do smartphones and dumb choices shift the way we allow technology to run our lives?

I can’t make some grandstand and tell you that I’m going to work harder to stop and smell the (IRL) roses, or rely on my device less.

While I see the potential problems we’re creating with handheld and wearable technologies they have, without a doubt, also made me feel smarter.

I owe my business and livelihood to technology, including mobile phones.

And I probably owe a little sanity to Siri … even though she may also take a swipe at my sleep.

What’s your truth? Are our devices making us dumb? Are you enslaved by your phone? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!

Brooke Ballard for {grow}Brooke B. Sellas is an in-the-trenches digital marketer & owner at B Squared Media, blossoming blogger, and  a purveyor of psychographics. Her mantra is “Think Conversation, Not Campaign” so be sure to give her a shout on Twitter.

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