Apps-Dependent Hedonist Disorder

Silence is rare. Many nights of the week I find myself sitting legs-up on the couch, laptop nestled in place, sports or news on the TV, and iPhone and Blackberry on the coffee table to my left. I click on links, turn my head whenever the TV program projects a loud voice, and reach for whichever phone emits a notification. It’s a brutal vortex of information technology that is difficult to stay out of more than a decade into the new millennium.

I never used email or the internet until I was forced to in my first year of university. I used to hate watching TV. I only bought one because I got a full-time job working for a television broadcaster. I bought a cell phone because the roommates I lived with at the time got rid of our landline. Now all of the current implements that are conduits for these media command my attention at almost every waking moment.

Because of this barrage of information, I find it hard to be really productive or even hold basic linear thoughts when all these things are within reach. So I often shut them off, pick up a book, put on music, play guitar, go for a run, or even sit in silence. The hilarious irony is that I worked hard and saved money to purchase these gadgets and have all kinds of information at my fingertips. As the fictional, misguided visionary Tyler Durden said, “The things you own end up owning you.”

In my line of work, and living in urban North America, it’s almost impossible to live without them. They’re half status symbols and half knowledge necessities. It’s imperative to know what’s going on and to stay connected in these complex layers of relationships and interactions in the city. That being said, I don’t really need to be playing Angry Birds on the bus or in those few minutes between meetings/appointments.

And that’s where balance comes in. When I talk to my grandparents on the rez and in small-town Ontario (face to face), they’re both mind-blown and vexed that we walk around with computers in our pockets these days. They never needed them, and they still don’t. Because that wholesome attitude still exists, smartphones should be obsolete in the grand scheme of life.

But they aren’t, nor will they ever be. They’ve made my life easier, and I’m not abandoning any of these toys to become a born-again Luddite. The other day a random couple stopped me on the street to ask where a certain restaurant was. I didn’t know, so I pulled out my phone and called up an app – and within seconds I sent them in the right direction. My phone made me a hero for a moment. But silence and balance are golden, and I’ll never forget about the things that challenged and captivated my mind before 21st Century attention defects.

By the way, my favourite apps are Word With Friends, Angry Birds, Twitter, Instagram, and the new CBC News App.

7 Comments

  1. Great Blog post Waub! I feel the same way and have put into place certain structures to facilitate not letting these tech devices own me. One example is letting my phone die regularly and wait till I get to office in morning to plug it in, this in turn makes it possible to not look at phone while driving or interrupting time during evening with the girlfriend (which is supposed to be “quality time”). I am even starting to think that having a desktop instead of a mobile laptop might be better to buy next so that it stays in one spot and doesn’t follow me around the house… oh yah… IPAD… Hmmm.. well, that is going to be a hard one. Then I can carry my friends heads around my home and chat with them on it. Yet, this I foresee will not only be interpretive but also awkward once I go to the washroom and forget to turn my IPAD off. -giggle-

  2. Articulate post Waub. The dependancy we have on these things is unnerving at times. I remember going to camp outside of Gimli for one night last summer, without service. I was forced to play cards, completely connect with people and silence and how something so natural could feel so awkward and foreign.

    I read an article once that said we spend on average 12 hours ‘in front of glowing screens’. I thought – there’s no way we spend half our day..oh wait..7 hrs in front of computer at work, 2 hrs checking phone throughout the day, easily 3 hrs with TV/laptop at night…eeesh – is it possible we spend more time with these devices in our lifetime than we do sleeping. It’s a love/hate relationship.

  3. Jennifer Chornley

    I absolutely loved this blog. I had to post it to my profile.
    I sense you are a very peaceful individual, which I what I admire most about the Aboriginal people.
    I loved your line that said “The hilarious irony is that I worked hard and saved money to purchase these gadgets and have all kinds of information at my fingertips. As the fictional, misguided visionary Tyler Durden said, “The things you own end up owning you.”
    I fully concur with that statement. I wish you all the best in your career. I wish you and your family well.

  4. Thanks for sharing everyone. I’m glad you checked out the blog, and I’m happier you left experiences of your own here. Keep checking back in!

  5. Sometimes we need to treat ourselves like children, turn off the computer and television, have a warm bath, a healthy snack and put ourselves to bed!
    We don’t know how overwhelmed we are until we step away from it for a while. I agree that the siren call of Facebook is hard to resist, but when I do take a break, I find I don’t have the twitchy, ” what did I miss” feeling that I thought I would. Instead, I realize that the world went on, making its choices while I made mine; my choice was to sit on the deck and enjoy the moonlight.
    What’s your choice?

  6. […] life is spent in front of some sort of screen as I ingest a variety of media. I’ve lamented this routine before, and I don’t really foresee my habits changing as long as I make a living off of words and […]



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