I — like most people I observe in waiting rooms and in line at Starbucks — kill little bits of time with my head down, the glow of my smartphone lighting up my face. Twitter, App.net, Google Reader, Instagram, Email, iMessage, Tumblr and more wedge their way in to my life in little two-minute increments throughout the day.
I’m tired of it. So I’m fighting back — by retreating. I’m giving up my iPhone — my daily life partner for almost five years.
There is a distinct (and somewhat odd) sentiment of apprehension on the Internet toward personal experimentation.
Whether it's giving up an addictive smartphone or something rather more significant like, say, the Internet, onlookers seem to trip over themselves to decry and question the personal intentions of these individuals.
The most common oppositional argument I've heard is that the Internet and smartphones are simply not going to vanish. They are pieces of technology that are woven deeply into our society, and they will be carried with us — in some form or another — into the future. Thus, forgoing the usage of either is an effort in antiquated futility.
Although there's certainly merit to this perspective, I tend to think it callously overlooks and undermines the positivity within psychological exploration. Furthermore, without understanding the ramifications of the technological trajectory we’re following, how might we come to existentially comprehend our reliance upon technology?
Arguably these experiments of self-deprivation need not be published and shared exhaustively on the Internet, but, in my eyes, I think the lessons learned are of the utmost cultural significance to all of us.
Perhaps you disagree with Stephen about the pitfalls of carrying a smartphone with you at all times, but that's not to say that his findings shall be of little interest to you. Equally, whether he fails or succeeds, the results remain irrevocably meaningful.
Stephen, much like Paul Miller, is attempting to explore the technological trajectory we've collectively chosen to follow from an intensely personal perspective. And yet, much unlike Paul Miller, Stephen has sustained his ties to the technology he relies upon for the sake of realism.
Rather than simply blinding himself to an inevitable societal movement, Stephen is simply removing one item of technology from his life for one year. Yes, he will have a cellular iPad, a Mac, and a cellphone, but he will just not have an iPhone.
Moderate as that may appear, I consider it far more of a pragmatic experiment than others in this community.
So, for Stephen, I wish him all the best. Although there are alternative ways to explore the poison of technology, Stephen has chosen his own personal path, and it's certainly not my place to question his private thought and learning process.
I suspect that, regardless of the negativity swirling around his experiment, Stephen's findings will ultimately prove to be valuable to even the most staunch of his opponents. And, irrespective of how long the experiment lasts, I applaud Stephen for taking the bold step to challenge one of the most accepted and self-reliant elements of his day-to-day life.
For more information about his experiment, visit 512Pixels.