My wife and I were watching a documentary on television when we realized it could have been written about us. We both love technology and make it a point to purchase tech items that make our busy lives easier. We have speakers that take our orders for groceries and dinner delivery. We have scheduled our calendars to remind us to do everything, including washing our dog each week. I never gave much thought to this becoming a problem in our lives, until I realized we were texting each other while at dinner. In our home. Together. Everything we read tells us to put our devices down, but they don’t actually tell you how to accomplish the task without a jittery set of fingers itching to touch their screen. What recommendations do you have for reconnecting, sans technology?
Ted Texts and Talks
Dear Ted Texts and Talks,
Well, dear reader, you have certainly come to the right place for this dilemma. As a species born without thumbs, I find the lure of technology to be unimpressive. Other than my addiction to television, which has been prescribed by a doctor for canine sanity when left home alone, I find that the marvels of 21st century living are far more of a bother than they are worth.
Unless your doctor prescribed you a smartphone, it’s time to put the screen down!
Ok, so I’m well aware that I’ve just done to you what every other expert has recommended. If putting a screen down was so easy, everyone could do it without a second thought – but it’s crucial for you to realize that this needs to be treated like an addiction to any other drug on the street. You must commit to putting your infernal devices away for whatever period of time you want to spend with your spouse.
Or you could divorce your spouse and marry your phone.
I’m going to move forward as if you’ve chosen to remain married to a human, please stop reading if you’ve decided to go in the other direction.
First, you need to reprogram your phone to bother you less often. Turn off notifications to all of the apps that are unimportant. Almost all of your apps are unimportant – start with your shopping apps and work your way toward the news apps. If the news is actually urgent, you’ll hear the neighbor’s shocked screams. Now here’s where it gets tricky. Like any drug addict, you’ll argue that social media is important and you must simply keep getting pings and badges and alerts so you can accurately track every single movement your followers/friends/relatives/strangers are making.
Social media is not important. Turn off the notifications!
Text messages can be important. Note that I said can be, not are. Most humans have one or two (or three dozen depending on your addiction) random group chats involving distant coworkers and/or relations who idly chitchat about random topics. These messages are not normally time sensitive and should be set to deliver silently. If the group message morphs into urgent territory, you will hear your phone ring.
If the text message involves dinosaurs wearing cardigans, consider it time sensitive.
That was a test. What did I just tell you about drug addiction?! Text messages about dinosaurs wearing cardigans are not important, as much as it pains me to say it. If you weren’t a smartphone addict, I could have given you a pass on that one area of beeping during dinner – but you are an addict and this has gone far enough.
You were just considering marrying your phone a few moments ago!
You may try to deny it, but I am a wise canine. I know that for a split second at the start of this letter, you considered how awesome it would be to marry a tablet that would have dinner delivered promptly each night and never argued when you chose to eat pizza five nights a week. Unlike your human wife, who will assuredly want a change of pace every now and then. Which leads me to my final piece of advice.
Turn your phone off.
Really off. Not like ‘I’ve silenced it and turned the screen over so I can’t see the light but can still hear the faint buzz and then I excuse myself to the bathroom’ off. No human has to go poop in the middle of a meal unless that meal involves lava as a condiment. You’re texting in that bathroom and we all know it! Oh, we can also hear the cat video you are frantically trying to turn the volume down on. No, I’m sorry, but nothing short of turning your phone off during an agreed upon set of hours will work so you may as well give in.
It’s time for the ‘hold side button for an awkwardly long time, then swipe your finger across the red bar’ off.
Your marriage, and all of society, are counting on you to overcome this madness.
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