We begin the second week of our first themed edition,Your Tech Life, with an essay. 

by Debra Arbit

Is it still considered driving if you are stopped at the world’s longest stoplight? What about waiting for a train to pass you by? What about in stopped traffic? These are the questions I grapple with as I try to decide whether I’m lying to my iPhone when I click the button “I’m not driving” to unlock it.

Listen to me. Lying to my phone. As though it’s a living breathing thing with feelings, one that even cares about my level of honesty with it. Let’s be real, my iPhone X wouldn’t even care if I became a quadriplegic tomorrow let alone care if I’m not under oath.

About six months ago, I installed a setting on my phone that won’t let me use it while I’m driving unless I manually override it by clicking a button that says “I’m not driving.” I’m embarrassed to admit the number of times I have tried to justify pressing that button despite the fact that my hands are on the wheel and foot on the pedal.

“Yeah, but I need directions somewhere,” is one of my favorite excuses. I mean, it’s really no different than looking at a map. Probably safer really. “The kids might need something,” is another go-to. Or if a number comes up that I don’t recognize, rather than assume it’s a telemarketer (which let’s be honest, it always is), I immediately conclude that my daughter probably sliced her head open at summer camp and needs me immediately.

But sometimes it’s not that I need directions, nor that I’m a worried mom. Sometimes it’s just out of idle curiosity or worse, boredom. In an age of 144-character tweets and articles that tell me how many minutes it will take to read them (for the record, I don’t read many that are more than 4 minutes), I feel like with time, I’ve developed some weird form of adult onset and technology-induced attention disorder.

What used to be a nice relaxing manicure is now an excruciating amount of time to sit in silence while my nails dry and I wait for them to be just set enough so I can unlock my phone. Movies that used to hold my attention aren’t enough anymore. I need to have my device in hand to Google more facts about the actors and goofs on IMDB. Reading a long form novel used to keep me riveted. Now I need to check my email between each chapter.

And what used to be a simple traffic light or train crossing is now almost too boring to bear without a quick glance at my email or yes, I’ll even admit the occasional social media check to see how many likes my most recent kid pic is garnering.

As I write this you’d think what I’d be feeling is fear or some sudden realization that this madness has to stop. But mostly what I feel is total shame. I’m a mom of three young kids. In so many ways, I won the uterine lottery being born into a loving and fortunate family. The fact that I’d be willing to put all that at risk to watch The Fat Jewish’s latest Instagram story is almost enough to make me never post this essay with my actual name attached to it.

But maybe, just maybe, by writing it down, seeing it in clear, black and white Times New Roman font on my screen will be enough for me to not click that “I’m not driving” button. And if not me, maybe you.


Image: Photo by Roman Pohorecki via pexels.com