I feel like things need to change between us. I know, I know – what way is that to start a letter? – especially as you probably haven’t even noticed that things have been going wrong. In fact, from your end, I’m sure you’d say that things are better than ever. You see, iPhone… that’s half the problem. You’ve probably noticed just how hopelessly attached I am to you. It’s true – you’re the first thing I reach for in the morning, and the last thing I look at before I go to sleep. Your glow has replaced the sunrise and sunset – my day begins not with the light of the sun dipping over the horizon, but with your digital illumination. I wake not with the sound of seagulls or the patter of footsteps on floorboards, but to the electronic chime of your alarm. You call for me and I go to you. An outstretched hand which barely relinquishes you for the remainder of the day.
I’ve always figured myself quite an independent person, iPhone. I have been grittily determined not to be dependent on others, stubbornly refusing to ask for help and relishing time spent alone. I detest my anxieties, those little niggles in the back of my mind that tell me I can’t do things, my nervousness to make journeys on my own now and then, or that weight in my stomach at the thought of making a mistake, missing a train, feeling exposed. You know that I fight against these – like a little girl, all pigtails and mud under her fingernails – no-one can tell me what I can and can’t do. I make my own way. You’re not the boss of me. So how does it make me feel that I check for you before I leave the house – sometimes two or three times? That when I am alone and feel vulnerable, I do not lift my chin to the sky, dig my heels in deeper, tell myself that I have every right to walk, or sit, alone without being judged – I reach for you. I do not call, or use you as a stepping stone to connect with others, sometimes I just hold you – a solid, metal comfort blanket. A sign to the world that I have a purpose, I have friends – I have a phone.
I know what you’ll say – but I barely see you during the day, and that’s true. No signal and no wifi at work mean that during the days I snatch back back some of that freedom (reluctantly)- I don’t scroll, or check, or carry you from place to place like I do when I’m at home. But you know me well enough to know that I don’t take this lightly. I still wander around on occasion, searching for that elusive bar of signal, perhaps a little 3G (it’s never there but I still look), to see if I’m missing anything. I’m tortured by those encircled numbers by my email box and Twitter app that have managed to sneak enough signal to tell me there’s something there, but not enough to show me what. And I don’t tuck you away, do I? Even though at work you’re little more than a brick, a hunk of metal, unable to deliver even your most basic functions (I’m sorry – you know it’s true, secretly squirreling away voicemails, patiently waiting to come alive at 5pm) – I still keep you next to me. Expectantly I still check – bringing up Twitter, providing nothing but a snapshot in time of just before I lost signal that morning. Those same last five tweets that will remain there all day, time suspended. I can’t bring myself to leave you in my bag. I need you, it’s true.
‘So what’s the problem?’ I hear you say. What’s the harm in having that deep connection? I cup you in my palm, slip you in my back pocket, feel for you to check you’re still there, like a keepsake or a secret. The problem is, iPhone, that you are just a phone. You are not enhancing my life or making me happier – I can’t justify the time we’re spending together any longer. I have other things I need to do with my time – things like yoga, and running, and reading, and just… looking up at the sky and smelling flowers and taking a moment to appreciate all of the things around me, instead of all of the updates on Twitter. I need to get my news from the wind and the weather and the tide, not from 140 characters and Facebook status updates from 12 years ago schoolfriends. I need to put my hands and arms around Bodhi and my fiancé, not around your plastic case. I need to end my days with a good book, some yoga stretches, maybe some meditation – not with instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and then instagram again to see if there’s anything I’ve missed. I need to be more immersed, to dip entirely below the surface of films, and books, and days out, to gulp them in, rather than having one hand above the surface checking what else is going on on social media.
It might seem harsh, but I’m determined that we spend more time apart. You’re like an itch I love to scratch, and I need to learn to leave you be. You’re going to be spending more time in my handbag, in gloveboxes, in other rooms, and maybe even switched off (I know, I know, I’ve never done that before). I’m going to start by trying to say goodnight to you at 9pm – and then finish the rest of my day without you. I know you like it when I reach for you reflexically, but I’m going to be sitting on my hands from now on. I need to see more of those moments that can easily be missed – the way the grasses in our garden dance in the wind, the way Bodhi tilts his head when he hears a funny noise, the way the steam from my tea cup curls ambiently towards the ceiling, the delicate petals of the orchid in the kitchen. And when I do? I need to stop myself from grabbing you immediately, because one thing I also need to learn, iPhone? Not everything needs to be instagrammed. Some things can be kept just between me, and well, me.