Life on an iPhone


When Rei was born, my world got infinitely bigger. Responsibility for the survival of another human being, and all that.

It also got much smaller. I was suddenly and abruptly at home for the majority of the time. I had a lot less daily contact with a lot less people. A dwindling amount of TV. Limited range of motion. The same outfit, day after day after day after please don’t nominate me for What Not to Wear.

Also small: my screens.

I spend my “spare” time on two devices, my Kobo and my iPhone. I read on my Kobo when Reiden is nursing and napping. It would be awkward to try and balance an actual book on my nursing pillow, and if I didn’t have an e-reader I wouldn’t be flying through books like I am. I’m reading War and Peace, for crying out loud (a fairly easy read as it turns out, except Tolstoy loves referring to the same characters by their first names, last names, nicknames and titles all at once. Anna, Annie, Anna Povlovnazinski, Princess; the Count, Shinshin, Larry, Uncle Shinshin, The Hair On My Shinny Shin Shin. And there are zillions of characters. And there is no Larry, and most of those names are wrong.)

A good chunk of the rest of my life is channeled through an even smaller screen, without which things would be much different.

I don’t love technology for technology’s sake. At times I’ve hated it. I am not a gadget person. And I dislike how smartphones make us disengaged in “real life” situations. I hate being in a restaurant and seeing groups of people and couples on their phones. I hate it when I realize I’m doing something on my phone that isn’t important, that can wait, that’s taking my attention away from Reiden. I’m hunched up all the time, my eyes are probably getting worse and sometimes I feel like I’m looking at the world through a peephole.

That said, I shudder to consider life without it. Because I maybe have 20 minutes in a given day when I’m physically able to be on my laptop. Because computers, the Internet, home delivery! Because it enables many great and essential things along the hierarchy of needs:

1. Physiological

I go to website. I point at the diapers, you send them to me. A monkey could do it (could I train a monkey to shop online?).

Yes, diapers falls here. See: Excretion. And yes, I put it first.

I love you, Grocery Gateway. I love you and your mobile app and I don’t care that you charge me $9.95 for delivery; we are carless and cabs cost more than that, easy. Without you it would be Thai or Indian for every meal and we’d go broke and have to scrounge expired frozen hamburgers that inexplicably turned up in our freezer except we don’t eat meat so we would also starve.

2. Safety

Including calling for actual help, but also texting Pete to bring me coffee. See 1.

3. Love/belonging

Facebook, you drive me crazy. At least once a day, I actively hate you. All the same, it’s nice to know that other people exist, that they’re doing things out in the world and that they like my baby’s photos. (Unless none of it is real and all the posts and likes and comments are run by computers and did I just think of a great movie plot or what?)

4. Esteem

See FB, “Like” and “Comment” functions. Less used: “Retweet”. Rarely used, but a possible backup when Facebook implodes: Google “+”.

5. Self-actualization

There’s this app, and she’s called Notes. You may feel sorry for Notes, thinking she’s all lonely over there, wishing she could hang with the big kids like Springpad and Evernote. Except everyone uses Notes, because she’s easy and no-frills and comes with the iOS. And, turns out she’s great for writing.

I write exclusively in Notes. I blog in Notes and then move the posts to WordPress. I am writing a novel in Notes. There are probably easier ways, apps that I don’t want to buy or learn. I’m loyal to her because I am absolutely certain I would not be writing at the speed and volume I am were it not for her. I love her. And she doesn’t even sound like Scarlett Johansson.

Our relationship was a bit rocky at first, before I figured out how to change her font from Comic Sans. Ain’t nobody got time to write a novel in Comic Sans.

Yes, much of this would be possible using other devices, such as pen and paper; a servant bell (Pete?); going to actual stores instead of having things delivered (but oh, the delight of doorstep packages!). But for me it’s an issue not of could, rather of would. Would we have all those gratuitous cans of beans and chickpeas in our cupboards? Would Reiden be stocked with such critical necessities as suck pads and bandana bibs (thank you Etsy). Would I be writing as much as I am, producing great works of literature like this long and rambling post?

You’re welcome.


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