Hi, my name is Sarah and I’m an iPhone-aholic.
[All together now: ‘Hi, Sarah.’]
I’ve been addicted to iPhone for about nine months now and it’s totally ruining my life. If I’m honest with myself I can finally acknowledge the fact that I’ve been dependent on cellular technology for a long time, but it wasn’t until I started using iPhone that things got scary. My iPhone problem has turned me into a shell of the strong, independent woman I once was.
Oh sure, things started off innocently enough. It was alright when I was just using the soft stuff like a nice Qualcom handset with retractable antenna or a simple LG flip phone…it was all harmless fun back then. I never imagined that things could go so horribly wrong. I mean, back in 1997 my first mobile plan had a monthly limit of only thirty-five minutes for Pete’s sake! My mom bought me my first phone! Everything was fine. I convinced my parents that I could use responsibly and I promised to only use in an emergency. For the most part I was able to keep my cellular habits under control…at least in the early years.
Looking back however, it’s easy to see how quickly I lost control. Every year things got a little bit worse. There was always a new phone to try and my original thirty-five minute limit was no longer enough to satisfy my appetite for mobile communication. Those low-life cell phone pushers kept extending my plan limits. It wasn’t really noticeable at first… ninety bonus minutes per month here, an extra hundred-fifty there. Then suddenly I found myself with five hundred minutes and a texting plan! All at little or no extra cost. It was a slippery slope. Then the Blackberry came along and everything changed.
I had been managing so well for so long with standard calling plans that I really thought I could handle it when I decided to try smart phone for the first time. The lure of nation-wide free long-distance calling and an almost affordable data plan was too much for me to resist. ‘I’ll just try it for a month,’ I said to myself, ‘to see what it’s like.’
Well, I wound up with nine hundred minutes of talk time, free in-network calling, five hundred texts per month, not to mention internet access with an unlimited data plan. It was a heady thing. I didn’t want to put BB down and almost never shut it off. Like one of Pavlov’s dogs, the moment I heard the ‘ding’ of one of my custom ringtones I’d jump at the chance to get my next fix.
I started losing sleep, afraid that if I shut my eyes for even a moment, I might miss a call, a text, a BBM or an email. My phone could not be ignored. I would become irritable if I found myself out of range of cell service. Real time, in person communication was all but abandoned in favor of my all-consuming digital fixation.
It became clear to my friends and family pretty early on that I was developing a problem, but I wouldn’t listen. I grew impatient with my two year wireless contracts and couldn’t wait for the chance to update my outmoded phone to the newest, fastest, shiniest vehicle available to feed my addiction. I would rationalize spending the extra money on an early upgrade. ‘I NEED it!’ I would cry, while my family (who were only trying to be supportive) stood by, helplessly watching my self-destruction.
[Pauses to choke back tears.]
It was about nine months ago when even Blackberry was no longer enough to satisfy my ever-increasing need for instant communication. In my desperation, I turned to iPhone – exorbitant cost be damned. I’m not proud of it, but at the time it seemed like my only option.
They don’t tell you about the addictive properties of iPhone until it’s much too late. I really thought I’d be safe. All my friends were doing it. The celebrities on TV made it seem like iPhone was so cool. There were so many apps to install!
After only a few hours of trying iPhone I was adrift in a sea of social networking, angry birds, light sabers and fart noise apps. I was helpless before the power of the app store. My personal relationships and my work began to suffer.
A month later I was so far gone that I completely wandered off the path of the mainstream user and entered into the murky realm of the jailbreak. That’s right, I was reduced to stealing so that I’d have unlimited access to the most expensive apps. I had developed a taste for premium product and, unfettered by the mounting cost of my addiction, I was free to indulge without restraint.
There came a point about six months ago when not only would I always have iPhone on me, but I started carrying all sorts of iPhone-related paraphernalia as well. I’m talking wall chargers, car chargers, Bluetooth headsets, external batteries… I even bought a special novelty case so that I’d get a little extra jolt of pleasure every time I handled iPhone. It makes me sick just thinking about it.
By that point my iPhone usage had far surpassed where I was at the height of my Blackberry addiction. I honestly can’t remember what it feels like to be off iPhone. I actually composed and published this entire post while on iPhone.
It’s become the focal point of my daily life. It’s tentacles slowly spreading and stretching, insidiously infecting me with it’s convenience and ability to deliver instant gratification. Texting and calling aside, I email almost exclusively via iPhone. I pay my bills with iPhone. I can no longer drive a car or ride the subway without some handy iPhone app to tell me where I’m going. Nearly every social interaction I have is in some way connected to iPhone. It’s taking over my life. It’s become an extension of my arm. I can barely leave the house unless I know I have some iPhone in my pocket. Hell, there are times when I won’t even go into the bathroom without having iPhone within arms reach. If I could liquify iPhone and inject it directly into my bloodstream, I know I’d do it without a moment’s hesitation.
[Shakes head and expels a long-suffering sigh.]
Last Saturday, I hit rock bottom.
Hungover from an evening of obsessively checking my phone (also from drinking a lot), I was running late for work and left my apartment without any iPhone. I was so messed up that I didn’t realize what I’d done until I was already on the subway. (How I managed to figure out which train to take without iPhone is still a mystery to me.) The withdrawal symptoms kicked in almost immediately.
My experience went something like this:
*Repetitive pocket checking and bag searching
*Anxious thoughts about what to do if someone tries to make eye contact or (god forbid) start a conversation on the subway
*Dramatic and sudden drop in body temperature [side note: it was really friggin’ cold out that day]
*Inability to find your way to work without the assistance of navigational apps because you are working out in East Jesus Nowhere Brooklyn in the highly fashionable ‘Warehouse District’ where the question is not ‘Will I be mugged, stabbed, raped or murdered on my way to work today?’ but rather, ‘How many times?’
*Rapid heart rate [see above]
*Intense nausea [side note: may be alcohol related]
*Desire for extended nap-taking coupled with a vague sense of unease rendering nap-taking pretty much impossible
Hours Five-I Lost Count Because I Didn’t Have My Fucking Phone
*Increased feelings of panic and an ill-defined feeling that you are missing something
The Rest of that Awful Never-Ending Day
*Full-blown panic because you KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are missing EVERYTHING
By the time I made it home that night (again, I cannot stress how miraculous a feat that was) I was still twitching, sweating profusely and fighting the urge to throw myself in front of a bus. Hands shaking, I mustered all of my remaining strength and slowly lifted my beautiful iPhone from the confines of its charger.
In an instant I felt the incredible rush of endorphins accompanying that wonderfully satisfying sense of connectivity. Frantically I looked through all the emails, voicemails, texts, Facebook messages and scrabble games I had missed that day. It took about ten minutes.
But damn did it feel good!
That was the moment. That one life-changing, blissful, orgasmic moment was the point when I decided to never be without iPhone ever again. Thoroughly sated, I clutched iPhone lovingly to my chest and promptly fell asleep.
For those of you expecting some sort of moral, you are probably going to be bitterly disappointed. Whatever. Rehab is for quitters. I fully embrace my iPhone addiction…at least until something better comes along.