This is a more common addiction than many people may realize - and it doesn't
apply only to #email
. Smartphones like the iPhone and the Galaxy S series have become a mainstay of American life these days - to the point that we often wonder how we ever got along without them.
It may seem a little strange to think that anyone could check their phone literally 900
times in a single day (essentially once every minute), but it can and does happen. I have known friends and family members who would basically shun human interaction in order to catch up on Facebook, Twitter, or read the latest news - and if you dared to interrupt them, be prepared to face their wrath..
My nieces and nephews are a prime example of this kind of addiction. We take an annual vacation to the coast and rent a beach house for the 16 of us (10 adults, 6 kids, lots of potential drama). The house is equipped with WiFi, and all the children bring their iPod Touches and tablets. There is plenty to do during the week - sailing, fishing, shopping, you name it - but the kids would be perfectly happy to stay indoors and play games or surf the Web all day. My mother in law has floated the idea of switching off the router temporarily in order to get the children to go outdoors, but the ensuing chaos would have all of the kids (and a couple of the adults) nearly going through withdrawal.
I will be the first to admit I've dealt with this sort of addiction firsthand - as, no doubt, have many of you. This is why I've made a point of consciously
changing my behavior in order to combat those addictive tendencies. First and foremost, I allot one hour in the morning to going over email and catching up on my social networks (Facebook, Twitter, G+ and LinkedIn). I'm in the process now of curating my lists of followers on those networks to streamline things and make it easier for me to see what's important.
Second, my smartphone is set up with the standard Gmail app rather than the generic Email app provided. This way, I'm not notified of every single message that comes through. Instead, I can check on my own time and respond as necessary. This is especially important with things like G+ notifications - I participate in groups where posts arrive several times a day, and if I stopped to read each one as it came in I would get very little work done.
Third, my time at home is my
time. When I get home from work, one of the first things I do is shut off my cell phone. My wife and I work opposite shifts, so for most of the week we only see each other for a couple hours out of the day. When I get home at night, I want to spend time with her without worrying about missing what someone on Facebook or Twitter might be saying. To that end, I switch the phone off and my friends and family know that if they want to contact me during that time, they can call our land line.