How did I come to rely on my smartphone so much?


We don’t just cross the line. We race past it traveling 80 mph.

My family has a mobile plan with a national carrier that limits us to 10 GB of data. You would think that 10 GB would be plenty for us and it was for a long period, but over the past several months, we’ve obliterated our allocation. In the process, we’ve cost ourselves a few extra dollars. We could switch plans, but we’ll more than likely have to pay more for our coverage, so for the time being, I’m trying to keep a lid on our usage.

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When we got the bill last month, I couldn’t wait to dive into the bill. I was ready to pounce on the guilty party. I was sure that one of my sons, or even my daughter, had wasted the majority of the minutes on some new game or app. I couldn’t wait to threaten to take away their phone or put in any number of restrictions. My glee turned to a frown, though, when I found out that the biggest user of data the past month had been me. My children were right there with me, but there I was in black-and-white Arial font the biggest user of data in my family.

I checked the bill again. This couldn’t be right, could it?

Oh it was right, all right. On a whim, I checked the previous month. I wasn’t the bigger user, but I was certainly in the running. The same for the previous five months.

A steady drip becomes a waterfall

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My thirst for keeping up on social media, including Twitter and Facebook; my habit of checking new hits to my blog; my need to stay current on the day’s worldwide news events; my reliance on my phone’s GPS; and checking my work email and calendar while on the go had finally caught up with me.

I repeated again: How’d this happen?

I understand that smartphones became widespread in the late 2000s and are commonplace nowadays. In fact, one estimate puts the worldwide usage at more than 2 billion, with 72 percent of the U.S. population owning a smartphone, more in a handful of other countries, less in many others.

The not-too distant past

telephone-1223310_640I get their popularity, but I still remember a world without them. For instance,  I remember my old work routine. Each evening, I would pack up my brief case and clean up my desk. Before I left, I had one final act: to pick up my landline work phone and call my wife to let her know that I was on my way home from work and she wouldn’t be able to get me for the next 45 minutes.

I remember too that if I was having a conversation with my brother-in-law and we couldn’t think of the actresses name in the recent Star Wars movie for instance,  we would actually wait until we got home to Google the movie or the IMDB web site. (Now today, of course, we’d pull out our phones and have her life story in front of us in seconds. In days long, long ago, we’d actually have to check the encyclopedia, ask a friend, or go to the library and research the name via old newspapers and magazines.)

Don’t get me wrong. I love the technology. I love how it simplifies our life. I’m just surprised how the small 2.5 x 5.5 inch box in my hand has taken up such a big part of my life and is now costing me more and more each month.

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I threaten to get rid of our phones, but my kids reminded me the other day that if I get rid of them, I’ll be getting rid of my mini-me Bitmoji too.

I considered the question for a second or two and then decided on second thought that maybe we needed to take better advantage of safe and secure wifi when we have it and get used to crossing the 10 GB threshold, bill overage be damned!

 

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