COLUMN: The battle not to lose myself to the life inside my phone

Notifications to an iPhone
Notifications to an iPhone
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When did keeping up with your mobile phone become a full time job?

Between text message pings, email dings, news notifications and Twittery tweets, I feel like I’m always behind on something.

Now, I’m no old-fogey when it comes to technology - I don’t believe for a second the world was better when things were simpler, and I love having so much information and easy communication at my fingertips, but even I have to admit it can get overwhelming sometimes. This morning I came downstairs to make a coffee before my day began. I logged on to my laptop and got distracted perusing the day’s tasks before, about half an hour later, realising I’d left my phone upstairs.

I’d missed a call from my husband, who’s working away at the moment, and three texts from various friends. And that’s when I saw ‘the numbers.’ You iPhone users will know what I’m talking about. ‘The numbers’ in bright red circles that sit aside your various apps to remind you of all the notifications you’re sitting on; taunting you for your lack of responsiveness.

I had Photostream updates, Instagram and Pinterest notifications, news items that required my attention, a host of Facebook happenings, Tweets coming out of my ears and 88 unread email messages across my three accounts. I had 19 unread messages on one of my WhatsApp threads and four Slack messages. ‘The numbers’ were all clear last night, meaning these were all things that had come in the last eight hours when I’d let pesky sleep get in the way of my iPhone productivity. I also have a system update I’ve been meaning to do for the last two weeks and warning messages I keep ignoring that my memory is full and needs me to go in and delete some stuff.

I love what this technology does for us, but I don’t miss this need to keep on top of ‘the numbers’ whenever I have a free minute. It would be nice to simply enjoy the sunshine as I walk out to grab a coffee mid-morning, rather than having my head down scanning through WhatsApp, trying to catch up with friends’ messages to see what I’ve missed. I used to enjoy reading a book at lunch occasionally when I had a little free time. Now I seem to spend those valuable minutes replying to texts or emails or uploading photos of my daughter to the family iPhotostream.

Technology is a great thing, but every so often, I’m reminded of the need for balance. I don’t want to miss out on what’s going on around me, because I’m trying to keep up with the world inside my phone.