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Friday, May 7, 2021

How my iPhone turned into an

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It takes just a few days for my iPhone to make my life miserable. This is because of the blue blob that I now casually ignore in the notifications tray, the one with a rashy smile that pokes its way out when I install a new app. There are others — Messy Reader, Knock Knock: This Phone Is Killing Me, Clipping This Website Is Crap, and Blah Blah Blah are all online somehow, probably circulating among those with sore throats and mottled nails — but this is just the pinnacle of cell phone coping mechanisms.

Anyone else having a tough week? At times, I wish my phone would just stick in my pocket and go away. —

As a presidential candidate, I was initially okay with the fact that my iPhone was picking up far too much information on me. It’s never permitted to post information about me, but when your character features prominently on your phone, it’s hard to be cool with the idea that you’re sort of naked on the Internet. Some of this, of course, has to do with bragging rights, the raison d’être of these products. Lots of us run around with phones branded with the huge Apple logo on their right shoulder and try to look cool on social media. In a way, I seem to find this appealing. It’s not so much how good my selfies look as how “in your face” I am on the phone.

Worse yet, posting posts makes my phone act like I’m desperate for attention. In every post, there are blue pixels around every a sliver. It’s as if I’m trying to hook them with my face. But I can barely look at my own photos, because I’m so distracted by the puffs on my iPhone’s screen.

Having been a journalist for the last 12 years, I’ve always been pretty good at getting passionate about a subject. I like the density of stuff on the Web, like the ocean of data-rich information. But it’s not enough. This is a problem, though. Since I’m always updating, sometimes when I pick up my phone, I look at a screen full of what I think of as whiny.

I’m the same age as my children. I’m running low on childlike patience. For some reason, though, when the kids are putting on weight, I do not. The blue blob will now sit near their Facebook feed, taking all the space. Should I visit this odd little place that shares my name? I say, Should I visit this site called Fixly that’s just about Facebook? Should I visit Stata, a site with an Android app? I keep backtracking, trying to get a simple answer to what this weird purple blob is doing in my living room.

I think about how I might enjoy my death — this place will bring to mind my interest in leisure. Maybe I’ll take out a private space to stare into this strange blob for a while. Maybe I’ll check my Facebook feed. Some of the items there have become more “distracting” recently, but there are still tons of posts. How about a bit of self-awareness? Why do I have to actually like things I don’t like? Should I block the icon? Just smile at it all the time. It’s not that pretty, but this little web site does not have a default skin like my phone. The blue blob can be white or gray, black or blue or purple. I think I know what that is like.

Funny how you hardly ever see white on the Web. Or color. Or text on your iPhone screen. I do all these things, and somehow, until I started to stop, I felt fine with it. I don’t feel fine with it. But I don’t have the option of switching off. I’m stuck with the blob, and I have my family to look after. I say, Let’s just have a dry run: I’ll just say “please” for just a few minutes a day.

Last weekend, after a day of difficulties, I decided to stop listening to music while I work. Sure, at least you can leave the house without listening to “Superstition” or “Daisy.” But when you have a family around, what a nightmare. I know that was how I was taught about caring for a baby, and the lesson sounded great, but now it seems hopeless. The jerk will keep picking up my phone and talking to strangers. I want to make sure he knows that I just went to bed and put the phone away.

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