My Smartwatch and Me

18 Dec


“Constant high frequency flinches” – a description of our lives on phones from the great documentary on minimalism right now on Netflix. I feel that a lot. Earlier this year, I think in March, the ringer switch on my phone flipped permanently to the “off” position.  There’s a way around it to toggle sound back on, on but it’s 3 menus deep in settings and WHO HAS TIME FOR THAT? So slowly I just accepted that my phone was silent.

To offset this new reality because I am a Busy Productive Person (TM) and also a sucker for a tech gadget, I impulse bought a Pebble smartwatch in an open box sale just to try it out…you know, “for science.” Soon all those notifications that popped up on my phone (and were silent) were buzzing my wrist.  At first I thought it was kinda cool…I always knew when something was up, I could see a text message fairly easily while driving (stop that), and I felt like a new version of Busy Productive Person (TM) had arrived.

As the year wore on, I lessened which notifications got through to my wrist until it was down to phone calls and texts.  I began to notice that while I might have my phone face down on the table at lunch with a friend, that wrist vibration was hard to ignore. Even if I didn’t take a glance, my mind was removed from the conversation with the real live human being in front of me until I checked the notification.

After a while the flinch began. What did someone want? Was it a problem? Was someone wanting something from me right this instant? Could I fulfill the self-perceived obligatory Busy Productive Person Response Time (TM) I had set for myself? It didn’t matter if I had just sat down to practice a guitar part or maybe write a song or work on some intense emailing or what…the wrist would buzz me, and I’d answer it. I started to get a sinking feeling when the flinch happened, because I knew my brain was now headed in another direction. I’d be scattered and dissatisfied with the task it interrupted and also dissatisfied until I handled the notification response, whatever it was. I felt on top of it but my body was telling me to work something else out for crying out loud.

Over Thanksgiving with my family in Houston, I forgot to pack the charger for my watch.  It died halfway through the weekend, and when I got home I put the watch on a shelf and I haven’t charged it since.

My phone still lives on silent, and I have missed a few phone calls, but now manage to not look at my phone for maybe an hour or two at a time instead of multiple times an hour.  This is kind of a big deal for me, the pleaser and “Busy Productive Person (TM). If anyone has noticed I don’t text back as quickly, no one’s mentioned it (I doubt anyone cares).

Since I am a sucker for a new year’s resolution, I’m going to try and pay less attention to the buzzes and the little red notification bubbles and see what happens. If anything my brain will feel a little calmer.

Comment Form