The Presence Project: Breaking the iPhone Addiction

They say the first step down the road to recovery is admittance you have a problem so here it goes: My name is Jamie, and I am an iPhone addict. My phone has become an ever-present part of who I am. It goes in the car with me, to the bathroom, and sits next to my pillow while I sleep. If, on the very rare occasion, I forget my phone, it is as if an essential part of me has been left behind. Like my right arm. When Ben wakes me in the middle of the night to get him a bottle, I use that as an opportunity to check up on all the Facebook statuses I missed while I was sleeping. I have my earbuds in so often that my husband has given up trying to have a verbal conversation with me and instead communicates vital information through pantomime. I check my email constantly even though the most pertinent information I receive is a two-for-one-sale on socks at Old Navy. Nothing strikes me with more dread than when the “10% battery life” warning flashes on my screen.


I saw this and laughed, without irony, while looking at my phone in line at the grocery store. Clearly, I have a long way to go.
Photo courtesy of


I realize this is a big problem, one that I have been avoiding. My husband has tried to tell me that I should put my phone down once in awhile. Usually these gentle suggestions come after I complain that my neck and shoulders are always achy or that I can’t read anything smaller than a billboard after 8pm, and they are always prefaced with “now don’t get mad at me but…” So I guess maybe I am a little defensive on the whole phone issue. To be fair, he is on his phone and iPad a lot too, but he is reading Wall Street Journal and New York TImes articles while I am checking Us Weekly and TMZ updates. Occasionally, he will say something to me like “can you believe what’s going on in Turkey right now?” and I’ll put on a concerned face and vaguely say, “yeah, it’s crazy,” hoping that I might pass as well-informed while I secretly wish that, just once, he would ask me my opinion on Miley Cyrus or the Duck Dynasty controversy.

But really, he’s right, and I know he is. I use my phone as a way to check out, take a break from the constant demands of parenting, which is fine if it was once in awhile. But now it is to the point that I am afraid my children’s’ clearest  memory will be of me sitting slack jawed, illuminated by the white glow of my phone screen, ignoring their demands for attention with a muttered “in a minute. Just let me like this picture some person I haven’t talked to since third grade just posted of their kid’s dance recital,” And soon my kids will have their own phones and their own Facebook accounts. I can already hear my future shrieks of “put down that freaking phone!” ringing in my ears. It is going to be very hard to stay atop that high horse if I myself can’t go pee without checking Instagram at the same time.


Photo courtesy of


So the first step of my year of living in the present is to put down the phone. Not completely, let’s not be crazy, but I am going to dramatically cut down the amount of time I am on it. Yesterday I even decided to turn off my music while on a run and just try to be fully aware of the moment I was in. Which turned out to be a bad idea because I haven’t run in a really long time and all I could hear was my own gasping breathes and shuffling feet and it was pretty discouraging. Anyway, I am going on iPhone restriction. And as a true step in the right direction, I am deleting the Facebook app from my phone. Right after I comment on this picture of a half eaten bagel my old college professor posted…


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