...my iPhone is ruining my life
The concept of time is probably one of the hardest to grasp. Merriam-Webster says time is "a nonspatial continuum that is measured in terms of events which succeed one another from past through present to future."
We all think we get it. We all build our lives around it, but, although we created the system for measuring it, I don't think, in the grand scheme of things, any of us really understand what time is.
It's a hard thing to wrap your mind around.
Looking back, the first time I was able to get the slightest grip on the concept of time was thanks to the cinematic masterpiece, "Spaceballs."
The cult classic parodies the original Star Wars trilogy taking aim especially at the commercialization aspect of it all.
At one point, when attempting to locate the hero of the movie, Lonestar, played by a super dreamy Bill Pullman, Dark Helmet, the parody version of Darth Vader brilliantly portrayed by Rick Moranis, and his main commander, Colonel Sandurz, pop in the VHS "Spaceballs: The Movie."
They fast-forward to the scene depicting Dark Helmet's failed attempt to utilize "ludicrous speed." This doesn't sit well with Helmet, and he orders his cohorts to fast-forward further which lands them precisely at the moment of the movie that is happening.
This creates the cinematic version of the Droste effect, or recursion, where a picture appears within itself and seems to go on forever, which, for the record, blows my mind something fierce.
Essentially, what's happening in the movie is happening in the movie on the screen within the movie and so on and so on and so on. Mind-blowing.
Like finding out the dad on Fresh Prince was the same guy who voiced Shredder on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
But back to "Spaceballs."
The dialogue of the scene I mentioned before I blew your mind reads as such:
Dark Helmet: What the hell am I looking at? When does this happen in the movie?
Colonel Sandurz: Now. You're looking at now, sir. Everything that happens now, is happening now.
What happened to then?
We passed then.
Just now. We're at now, now.
Go back to then.
We missed it.
When will then be now?
Are you kidding me?
No wonder time is the subject of so many great songs. It's truly a mind-boggling thing to try to get a hold of.
Yet, we waste it like it's nobody's business.
Although I constantly remind myself that time is precious and life is short, I find some of the most idiotic ways of wasting time, none so significant as the use of my iPhone.
My iPhone is somehow the most useful and useless thing I've ever laid my hands on.
There are a multitude of benefits to owning a smartphone but at the same time, there is the downside where the iPhone is essentially ruining my life by flushing all my precious time down a virtual toilet.
First, the good.
There are a number of features that make my iPhone handy and, in a 21st century kind of a way, essential to my daily tasks.
It has a number of features that keep my life organized and on track. Its alarm clock is handy because I can set at the beginning of the week the various alarms for the multiple shifts I'm facing for the next 6 days. A flashlight app insures I'll always have a light to guide me. A navigation app called "Waze" not only gets me to where I'm going when travelling, but also alerts me to inclement weather, traffic situations and various other road hazards. Spark recipes allows me to create meals based on what ingredients I already have on hand and even lets me factor in a food allergy. Sleep Cycle, when I set it up, measures movements in my bed to let me know how many hours and what kind of quality of sleep I'm getting in one night, which is how I determined I'm an insomniac.
My phone also acts as my watch, calendar, MP3 player, camera, a Kindle (I'd still rather hold an actual book, but, in a pinch, I'll order the digital version to satiate my impatience), the keeper of my grocery list and much more.
However, the amount of time I waste on this device while laying on the sofa or in bed attempting to sleep at night is sickening.
As if Facebook wasn't a big enough time waster on the computer, now it's at the tips of my fingers at any point in the day. When I first signed up, I would sit on this cheap IKEA computer chair for hours on end in my living room until I ended up 12 degrees of separation away from the original page I was looking at, staring at pictures of some stranger who knows someone who knows someone who knows someone I know and thinking, "How did I get here? Who is this person? Who was I creeping on to begin with? Did I just click 'like' by accident?"
Then there is Instagram, Stumble Upon, various apps with photos of interior design, online app shopping, games and so on and so forth.
And Buzzfeed. Don't even get me started on the amount of time I waste on Buzzfeed. The site is where the best of the ridiculous content of the Internet is gathered. I will lay there for hours reading and rewatching gifs of people falling through doors which have no panes of glass where panes of glass should be.
Just utter nonsense.
That's why I've taken to reading books using my Kindle app. I feel like if I'm this attached to staring at this phone while waiting for the sandman to come, I may as well read something productive rather than watch clips of cats performing in the Russian cat circus.
I find myself disposing of time in the same careless manner some Shamokinites dispose of their trash: just tossing it away over my shoulder without a thought of where it ends up.
We only have limited time on this planet, however, we have more time than our ancestors who got up at the crack of dawn to milk the cows before breakfast, walked a mile to a well for a drink or gathered wood for a fire to keep warm in the winter.
Technology is both a blessing and a curse.
I save time by not having to read a complicated map to get where I need to be, but then I waste triple the amount by looking at lists of pop stars and their correlating bird doppelgangers or what random celebrities would look like had they had Steve Buscemi's eyes instead of their own.
So, I'm resolving right now to spend less time on my phone and start making the most of now - not dwelling on the past, or worrying so much about what I can't control about the future.
D.H. Lawrence one said, "The living moment is everything," and nothing could be more accurate. Because this is now, now, but in a moment, it will be then, and when you turn around to get back to then, it's already passed and you're back to now again which will soon be then again.
The iPhone is an amazing device, but it is no substitute for living your actual life.
So, if you're guilty, as I am, of being overly fixated on a tiny screen, try to tone it down.
When possible, in order to have an actual conversation, talk to people you care about face-to-face instead of texting them. Meet them for lunch (and leave your phone in your pocket!) instead of posting on their wall. Put your phone down, take a walk outside, take in the real world and use your time wisely.
(Jenna Wasakoski, a News-Item editor, is a graduate of Von Lee School of Aesthetics and is certified as a professional makeup artist.)
Accomplice apps: the good and the bad
- Alarm clock
- The Weather Channel
- Around Me - informs me of the closest restaurant, gas station, bar, shopping or various other useful destinations
- DirecTV - allows me to set my DVR at home through my phone. So, if I run into someone and they say, "Did you see, that documentary is on tonight with that guy who is in love with his car?" I can quick set it up to record so I don't miss out.
- Target - this app actually tells you what aisle you can find something in. Comes in real handy when seeking out things on a registry.
- Find iPhone - locates my locked phone if I lose it
- GenieMD - tracks any medication you are taking, warns of interactions, reminds you when to take them.
- Spark Recipes
- AP Stylebook
- Press Reader
- NPR News
Throwing time right in the trash
For my mental health and overall fitness
- Words with Friends - good for brain activity and mental health
- Hypnotizing apps - These, I play while I sleep sometimes. They are supposed to hypnotize me and essentially turn me into a super human that fears nothing, loves everything and can do anything.
- Sleep Cycle
- WebMD - oh, my arm hurts, let me consult the "symptom checker" where all roads, no matter how minor the issue, lead to various terminal illnesses as a possible condition.
- Lose it - tracks your calories consumed and burned in a day. Actually kind of a waste of time. Instead of entering every blessed thing I eat in a day, perhaps I can run another mile, that seems like it would be more effective in staying in shape.
Involves music, gets a free pass
- WXPN - best music station from the Philly area if you like the music I listen to, which many of you probably don't.
- NPR music
- SongPop - a multiple-choice music game that allows me to showcase my vast knowledge of all kinds of music.
- iHeart radio
Terrible idea given my frivolous online shopping issues
- Google shopper
- Threadless - best place for T-shirts with unique designs by actual artists not mass-producing American Eagle robots
- Disco ball - turns any dark room into Studio 54. Not only does the disco ball spin, but you can swipe and make it go faster or slower.
- Fireplace - yep, just a fireplace burning in a loop on the screen.
- Rhyme - useful if you are a rapper or songwriter, useless if you just like to look up what rhymes with what.
- Catify - an app that replaces a cat's face with your or your friend's face.