How I Quit Checking My Phone Like an Addict

I couldn’t stop staring at my dumb iPhone, even when I had absolutely nothing to do.

Secretly, I had a big problem.

Sometime around December, I realized I was sick of staring at my phone. How can this happen? A dumb Silicon Valley tech bro wanker like me was sick of his phone. This is like Martin Shkreli being sick of Martin Shkreli. Like Jack Dorsey turning down extra CEO jobs. What? Like seriously…what? What went wrong?

I mean, it all made sense. I was mad that for years now, I couldn’t stop staring at my dumb iPhone, even when I had absolutely nothing to do. I’d re-check Twitter every five seconds and there would be no new tweets quite yet. Do you realize how hard that is to actually do? Or I’d be playing with my little 10 month old daughter, but I’d be sneaking athletic sideways glances off closet mirrors toward my phone to see if some little tidbit, some little anything, had shown up to update me.

And just like every good juicy break up, how it all went downhill so quickly, nobody really knows. I was breaking up with my screen time. We were through. Justin and Brittany. Biebs and Selena. D-o-n-e.

But, little did I know, the five stages of grief were about to hit me like a good old fashioned NFL concussion:  

1) Denial

The day it happened, I kept my hand around my phone in my pocket. Tightly yet sweetly. My precious. Just in case things come up, it’s really good to be prepared. My phone and I go back a way long time, so we really know each other. I have lots of respect for my phone, and I would like to believe my phone has respect for me. Guys, we’re good. Totally good. I was so happy this did not turn into a bunch of drama. Phew. Thumbs up. Go back to DJ Khaled or whatever you do.

2) Anger

Have you ever heard a guy cursing out his phone out loud? Well I have. Look phone, you’re not actually that great or cool at all. I’m pretty sure I have severe wrist pain from you, iPhone 6+. And Apple and Tim Cook are going down the toilet anyway. I have a feeling we’ll look back at carrying around these square bricks in our pockets and laugh one day soon. Stupid immature iPhone. And your battery sucks too.

3) Bargaining

I realized we didn’t have to break up because the two of us could still be pretty good together. We could just be responsible about what we did together. We didn’t need strict rules because we were both adult versions, and c’mon, we’re smart, responsible mature machines.

This lasted about two days before we were jumping into public restroom stalls and hooking up on the toilet like nothing happened (And yeah, I was not even peeing!) Whoops. No, sorry, this is not acceptable iPhone. We need to be true and strong and do what is right in our hearts.

4) Depression

It’s not even worth checking my phone, because everything is lame. And it’s not even worth breaking up with my phone, because nothing will change. We’re all pretty stupid, after all. Why do we always pretend about everything? I know that one day I’ll be ok without my phone being right next to me. But cmon, you think you really have everything figured out? No, no you don’t. I think I’ll stare at my television for a little while and cry.

5) Acceptance

Life is back to normal. A different kind of life, but a good kind of life. I seem to be getting way more work done than ever before. There is room in my life for ideas, and things I proactively want to do. Life does not seem to be updating every few seconds in 140 characters anymore. On the other hand, I can barely respond to email anymore. Pretty sure people will temporarily  hate me for not scheduling coffee, and then will forget me. And I’m still shallow enough to not want to be forgotten. But what it really comes down to is that acceptance is really goddamn boring. But boring is ok with me now. I can live with boring.

So you want the truth? I still have love for my iPhone life. We had such a good run. Some days are better than others. I miss the micro-second thrills. Life goes on. And let’s keep this between us, I’m a dumb Silicon Valley tech bro wanker with a reputation to maintain.

Ben is an active investor in VR and digital media, and is based in Los Angeles. Ben was an early Google and YouTube exec, and has founded and led multiple venture-backed video startups. His monthly profiles on “why people are great at what they do” are found here. How I Quit Checking My Phone Like an Addict