When I got my iPhone in 2008 it was life-changing. I couldn't believe all it could do and I often claimed I could run my life through it. That's just what I set out to do.
Google Calendar, Drive, Gmail, Maps, Contacts, and every other Google thing became portably integrated into my life. I downloaded apps for to-do lists, project planning, push-ups and planks, running, diet, and whatever else. I used the hell out of iTunes then Google Play Music thinking a subscription was the key to fully enjoying music. I switched to Google Nexus phones and then the Pixel. I lived my life through them.
But I kept feeling like I was doing it wrong. User error. My therapist waited while I struggled to put in our next appointment. I didn't know what I was doing each day until the phone dinged to tell me. Email overwhelmed me, so I checked it incessantly. I couldn't find my way around the city without the GPS. I was distracted and felt like a mess. What was wrong with me? It had to be my fault, right?
I chewed through gigabytes of data monthly and more than a battery charge daily. I stopped reading books and writing, stayed in, used the phone when I was out, and lost some touch with family. I felt addicted, like I couldn't stop, and it was then that I started shifting gears.
I stopped streaming music over the data plan. I had given up music while running years ago after stopping a woman from running into 45 mph traffic and I stopped walking with it now. These turned out to be easy changes, though I hadn't expected them to be easy.
Next, I switched to Google's Project Fi which bills only for data used. This got me looking for ways to cut data usage. My daughter said, "just turn off mobile data" and I went wide-eyed at the simple brilliance as I shut off mobile data. I've left it off. I still pick up the phone when waiting to pick her up from rehearsal, but there's no data, so I read a book. And I don't pay a cent for data.
I deleted most apps and use Twitter, Facebook, and The Washington Post in the browser. It's more difficult, so I use them less. I still use The New York Times app because it works so well, but I may end up dropping it too. I'll let my Post subscription go when it runs out next month.
And then this week I began powering the phone off for an hour each day. Yesterday, I left it off for two playing at how many hours I can leave it off.
Of course, you don't need to do any of this. You're not addicted to your phone and missing out on life because of it like I was. You don't use it while you drive or run out of battery each afternoon. You're not paying too much for data. It makes a good story though. I love stories of addiction and recovery, hoping the recovery takes hold. Maybe mine is one of those stories.
Check back here every so often to see how things turn out.