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My rocky recovery from iPhone abuse Add to ...

My name is Amy. I’m a 25-year-old grad student who likes yoga, home-decorating shows and eating spoonfuls of peanut butter straight from the jar. Oh yeah, and I’m an iPhone addict.

I wasn’t always an addict. In fact, for many years I told myself I didn’t want a fancy cellphone. They seemed like too much work, always beeping, ringing and demanding attention. I was perfectly content with my simple, free-with-a-three-year-contract antique, and I didn’t anticipate changing my mind any time soon.

However, about a year ago, my iPhonological clock started ticking. I found myself envious of all those proud iPhone owners, cradling their shiny new phones and showing them off to all their friends. I started eavesdropping on conversations about “iPhone apps” and “FaceTime,” feeling like a tourist listening to a language I couldn’t speak.

Eventually I couldn’t ignore my iPhone instinct any longer, and I welcomed my new iPhone into my life. I instantly fell in love with the little bundle of joy, and could no longer imagine life without it.

To my surprise, I suddenly found myself with a whole new circle of friends – other iPhone owners I could go to for advice and support as I learned the various functions of my new device. They responded to my iPhone-related queries when my other friends couldn’t, and didn’t roll their eyes when I bragged about all the things little Eloise (yes, I named her) could do.

For a couple months I was living on iCloud 9 as I built my new life with Eloise. However, I realized I had a problem when one day I found myself Google-mapping my way to my mailbox. Which happens to be right outside my front door.

When I reflected upon the past few months, I couldn’t believe I didn’t see this coming. All the warning signs were there. Eloise slept right beside me and was the first thing I reached for in the morning. I checked Facebook about 20 times a day and my e-mail even more. I also experienced attachment anxiety when I left poor Eloise in the change room at the gym. What if she beeped and needed my response? Or, even worse, what if a careless gym-goer knocked her out of my bag and caused her screen to (I hardly dared to imagine it) crack?

Okay, so I was addicted to my iPhone.

Once I admitted I had a problem, things started to change. What used to feel like friendly notifications now felt like constant nagging to respond. I hated that I could no longer leave the house without Eloise in my hand, and that I panicked the odd time I did forget her. Eventually, I resented Eloise so much I wanted to throw her at the wall – and would have, too, if I weren’t so worried about being reported for iPhone abuse.

I decided something had to be done. But, as I quickly realized, iPhones are like cigarettes and not easy to quit cold turkey.

Then, while taking the bus to work one day, I was unexpectedly forced to quit – at least temporarily. When I reached into my purse to grab Eloise (to check my e-mail for only the seventh time that morning), I found her overcome by fever. She was so hot that I dropped her immediately back into my bag with barely enough time to comprehend the words “overheating” and “power-off” that flashed with angst upon her screen. When I picked her up again, she was gone.

My head swam with panic as I attempted to problem-solve without avail. I couldn’t call anyone for advice. I couldn’t Google whether this had happened to any fellow iPhone parents. And when I finally arrived at work (luckily I found my office without Google maps to guide me), I learned that sick days do not apply to one’s iPhone children. I reminded myself to file a complaint for iPhonism later.

The Apple Store was closed by the time I finished work, so I headed home with dread into an Eloise-less night. But, after a couple hours without any text alerts, push notifications, or even good old-fashioned phone calls, I felt … calmer. After a few more hours I felt like a whole new woman, rising above the need for a silly … what was it called again? It had been so long I could hardly remember.

Without my electronic bed partner, I drifted off into the deepest slumber I’d had in months. The next morning, I read the news from the simplicity of the newspaper, instead of from within a 2- by 3-inch box. And later, as I walked to yoga class, I didn’t even trip over any curbs or narrowly avoid getting hit by any cars.

I even noticed the cherry blossoms blooming.

My goodness, what had I been missing?

But although it went against my newly redefined principles, I made my way to the Apple Store later that afternoon after admitting I’d need a phone sooner or later. En route to sell myself out, I observed the iPhone-users on the bus, hunched over and glassy-eyed as they frantically texted or played Angry Birds. I laughed to myself with self-righteousness – I was one of them once.

Half an hour and one friendly Apple employee later, I found myself yet again the proud owner of a new iPhone. When I turned it on, a wave of familiarity washed over me as it buzzed with two days worth of missed texts and notifications.

As I rode home, I found myself frenziedly responding to messages of “where are u?” and “c u soon?” Suddenly, I was reminded of an old Alanis Morissette song: “I’ve got one hand in my pocket, and the other one’s death-gripping an iPhone.”…

Without finishing my text, I put my phone back into my purse and decided to just enjoy the ride for a while.

Amy Green lives in Vancouver.

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