You are not addicted to your phone.


ckStephen King says that all great writers are readers. He always has a book handy. I carry my first-generation Kindle everywhere.

But I just cracked the damn thing. Ugh!

I am not rushing out to buy a new one, though. I downloaded the Kindle app and started reading books and magazines on my iPhone.

So it’s official: I am always on my phone.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. While it is easy to get distracted by the bright and shiny lights of text and Twitter, my mobile device is a lifeline.

  • Without my phone, I couldn’t see my cats when I travel.
  • Without my phone, I would struggle to navigate my way in new cities when I travel.
  • Without my phone, I wouldn’t read as many books.

While I am on my phone constantly, the device doesn’t bring heartache or pain into my life. It is the people around me who will bring heartache and pain into my life. My Kindle app makes me feel better. Great literature soothes the soul.

But the trend, right now, is to blame our mobile devices for our lack of attention and focus. And it’s very trendy to be anti-social-media.

I don’t disagree with Louis C.K. . . .  kids are stupid and lack empathy. And life is tremendously sad. The world is tough. We face impossible choices. And most of us don’t like to be alone. When we are alone with our thoughts, many of us cry.

But as adults, free will still exists. And if we didn’t have a “demon phone” to blame for our addictive and reckless behaviors, we would blame other devices like alcohol, drugs, porn, TV or music.

Louis C.K.’s appearance on Conan was poignant and interesting because he’s speaking to a greater loneliness that is best understood, but not necessarily created, by smartphones. And he prompted a conversation with many of my friends who feel an excessive amount of “digital overload.”

Do you feel the weight of your mobile device? Let’s talk about it. Here are some of my thoughts.

  • Maybe you are ignoring your family because of serious issues in your household. You don’t need a phone to interrupt authenticity and meaningful interaction. Do your kids play 100 sports? Are you immersed in volunteer activities? Do mommy and daddy drink heavily with friends during the weekend? Hmm. How is that kind of dysfunction any better or worse than being on a phone?
  • Maybe there are fundamental problems in your marriage. Many couples travel excessively. Some sleep in separate bedrooms. I know hundreds of people who share the same bed with a partner but fall asleep to the television. What’s the difference between staying up to watch Conan or playing Candy Crush in bed?
  • Maybe you are lonely and depressed. Plenty of people are socially isolated in the suburbs of America. Communities are broken. We are emerging from a great recession with record foreclosures and debt. The weight of our world has very little to do with the internet.

So I am just reminding everyone that the phone is probably not the issue. Your life is the issue.

Although much of social media is a multilevel marketing campaign, it’s also true that most of us are cowards who are struggling to be better people. We try, we fail, we feel shame, and then we start over. The phone has nothing to do with this cycle. In fact, it is probably just a natural extension of the cycle.

I believe you can have a mobile device and enjoy the social web without being an addict or an asshole. Balance is possible. And you can live a bold, confident and courageous life while checking in on Foursquare.

So please stop blaming the phone for your own personal dissatisfaction with your life. That’s pretty lame and shows a lack of depth and understanding about the core nature of your human experience.

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