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iDidn’t Bring My iPhone

I walked out to the park the other day without my iPhone and I felt free for the first time in months. I’ve only had an iPhone for two years, a cell phone for six years, and I haven’t worn a watch since high school so I first noticed that I’d left the smartphone at home when I went to check the time.

I was a late adopter of cell phones. I was annoyed but resigned to clerks in stores ignoring me to talk to friends or on the phone, but I disliked the fact that even standing next to a friend, I was now second to any random acquaintance who happened to call him up. And that was before smartphones or Facebook meant that the link to work or social contact was continuous rather than occasional.

I finally succumbed to the lure of mobile telephony because my wife was nine months pregnant and I thought we ought to be in touch in case she needed me urgently. It was a pressing need. I updated to the iPhone because I wanted to be able to take photos of my growing family and check my email from home while I was with them without shlepping my laptop and aggravating my aching back. That was also a good move and allowed me to spend more time at home (and my back to recover).

The internet is designed to be generally addictive and personally enticing. It’s a gateway to vast quantities of useful information and my devices, like yours, are set up to find the things I find especially necessary at the touch of a button. Anywhere, anytime. But it’s a creeping tool and I find myself holding my iPhone to take a picture of my girls and then lingering, like Gollum with his precious ring, on my email or latest sports news.

I didn’t stop wearing a watch because I no longer needed to be punctual, but because I didn’t need to be ruled by the time. The iPhone can free me to spend time with my family, but that time needs also to be free of the iPhone.

Dan FriedmanDan Friedman is the award-winning arts and culture editor for the Forward. He has written for the New York Times, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal and Da Ali G Show and he is currently writing a book about Tears for Fears.

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