Commentary

Mobile Addiction Rules iOK

I just returned from vacationing in Ogunquit, Maine. It’s a beautiful town that I am happy to share with the French Canadians.

I would have enjoyed the time here more, except for a truly catastrophic life-changing experience, which pretty much overshadowed the entire vacation.

I was running on the beach in the early morning when the worst-case scenario happened -- a fatality of epic proportions. No, not sharks flung onto the beach from a menacing tornado, but something much worse: my iPhone terminally crashed.

You can imagine the shock and instant pain I was in. My Nike+ running app was out of action – and so, I was unable to gauge distance traveled, time elapsed or average pace, play power songs or get real-time cheers from my global fan base. I literally stumbled in the void of perfect information amidst the hopelessly inefficient default of one foot stepping in front of the other foot.

In addition, I couldn’t listen to The BeanCast anymore (I like to listen to marketing podcasts when I run) or switch to one of my playlists for variety. The silence was deafening. It was completely putrid, with nothing but the monotonous, repetitive sounds of the ocean waves driving me insane, and an occasional seagull mocking me in my time of need.

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The rest of the day got progressively worse. I actually had to talk to my wife and children, as opposed to multitasking, multi-apping, reviewing tweets, likes, InMail, checking in on random locations like toll booths, getting 15 minute updates on the weather (why trust your own eyes, ears and senses outside when you can get the same information on an animated GIF radar image?) or upgrading my troops for battle in “Clash of the Clans.”

Instead of taking photos and spending 30 minutes curating them with excessive filters and special effects, I actually had to live in the moment and experience things like a normal person, versus immortalizing them for an eternity on a pin board, album or Instagram roll.

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. I was an absolute wreck, being completely cut off from the outside world and the play-by-play commentary on the birth of the future King of England. It was so worth it to drive for an hour to the Apple Store in a shopping mall in Portland. Sure, my entire day was rearranged around the only appointment available at the Genius Bar, but that’s the price you pay for Genius, my friend.

That night as I sat in the lobby of the inn in order to suck their WiFi dry and restore my iPhone from the glorious iCloud, I found my sanity slowly returning, as one (app) by one, the notifications began reappearing, and with it, my updated Starbucks balance, latest Cinemagram followers, CNN updates on George Zimmerman, and real time marketing Oreo tweets from the content bunker 10 miles under the surface of the earth.

You hear about all these media deprivation studies -- like, 57% of U.S. women would rather give up sex for a week than their mobile phones (May 2013) -- and they seem unrealistic (and pathetic if they could even be true), until it happens to you. Americans check their smartphones for messages 150 times a day, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to compare our tech addiction to that of a drug dependency.

Am I grateful to have gone through this cold turkey experience? Am I thankful for the opportunity to have disconnected in order to reconnect myself with what matters? Hell, no! All I can say is that in order to avoid this from happening again, I strongly advise people to carry two smartphones, a primary and a backup.

I will say this, however: If both a husband and a wife did “happen” to lose their phones to a “crash” at the same time, perhaps there would be a lot less deprivation and a lot more sex.

Just ask William and Kate.

7 comments about "Mobile Addiction Rules iOK".
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  1. Mike Patterson from WIP, Inc., July 25, 2013 at 1:42 p.m.

    Joe, are you serious? I just had to check...

  2. Dana Farbo from Self, July 25, 2013 at 2:10 p.m.

    And of course, we need an iPhone and a Galaxy S4 on different networks and a couple of tablets. Plus a MacBook Air or Samsung Ultra with all the chargers for everything. Then, maybe we can feel in control. Maybe.

  3. Joseph Jaffe from HMS Beagle, LLC, July 25, 2013 at 2:22 p.m.

    @mike - what do you think?

  4. David Hazeltine from Fiserv, Inc., July 25, 2013 at 3:08 p.m.

    Great post, Joseph. Sad but true. My family and I are disappearing to the woods of Maine in a few weeks, and I've already warned the teens of the lack of wi-fi service and therefore lack of device use - and they're already having withdrawals and keep asking about it! Maybe someday they'll be national "shut-down & disconnect" holidays (we can only hope).

  5. Mike Patterson from WIP, Inc., July 25, 2013 at 4:05 p.m.

    @Joe, whew, I was concerned...

  6. Christina Ricucci from Millenia 3 Communications, July 25, 2013 at 5:26 p.m.

    Thanks for the warning, Joe. So I guess I haven't overpacked for my upcoming vacation by adding my Galaxy S3 phone, my Galaxy S2 backup phone, my iPod Touch, Kindle Paperwhite, Galaxy 7.7 tablet, and my MacBook Air into my suitcase (oops, almost forgot the Wireless MiFi). I shudder to think that on a vacation which is supposed to be fun, I might have had to settle for sex!

  7. Joseph Jaffe from HMS Beagle, LLC, July 25, 2013 at 10:46 p.m.

    @christina - it could be worse... :)

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