After reading a study that claimed people checked their phones 85 times a day, a Big Smoke reader tried to see if he could beat it.
According to a study that I stumbled upon online (on my phone), smartphone users check their devices around 85 times a day.
The researcher who conducted the tests, Sally Andrews (of Trent University), glumly stated that, “There is a big question about whether the amount you use your mobile phone is an addiction.” And while I’ll admit, yes, Sally, I have a less than stellar record in regards to excessive phone usage (I’ve been known to conduct dinner table conversations via FB Chat), but I’m certainly not an addict. I can stop whenever I choose to.
I decided to refute the irrefutable findings of the study. “That’s not me,” I said, placing my phone down, finding my feet, trying to summon an inner monologue, something true. A mantra. A code.
I would not be another statistic. As Steve Jobs is my witness, I will check my phone less than … what was that number again?
By the time I reached the commuter train, the tally was already at 3, which I had ground down (on a technicality) to 2-1/2. I had to check the bus timetable, but it’s not my fault. They no longer have a timetable.
Anyway, I digress. My train commute is a short one. A fifteen-minute zip from Mascot to Central. Two Stations. Easy peasy, I thought.
Stepping off the platform and onto the carriage was akin to diving into the sea. One constructed entirely of Smartphones. iPhones, iPhones everywhere, but not a drop to drink. It was strange seeing a carriage of people swaying in unison like perfumed seaweed, while also being completely oblivious to everyone else.
Deviceless, I felt strangely conspicuous.
But I held strong.
Until someone asked me the time.
I’m uncertain if they’ll fully grasp the reason why a harmless question returned them an answer through grit teeth and daggered eyes.
Hey. I’m sciencing here, lady.
By the time I reached the office (a five-minute walk from the station), I was already deep in double figures. I had caught myself Facebooking while I was waiting for coffee. Twice. I audibly cursed myself, dragging awkward diversionary looks from those in line, who suddenly decided that coffee was no longer for them.
This was a bad sign. As far as “polite society” was concerned, I was crossing over into the world of the undesirable. A question stuck in my mind, Would I be knocked out in the name of Science?
At this point, I decided to suspend the counter and gave myself a 10-check penalty. It was 8:30. The count already stood at 23-1/2.
Hopefully, I thought, work will be busy (!) and I won’t have time to disgrace myself further.
All went well until just after lunch, when the server gremlins rose again. There was a muffled cheer from the employees when it was announced that work would be postponed. Smiles on faces. All except mine.
The phone sat there, face down. (I flipped it when I started receiving texts.) I felt like Dr. Strangelove, fighting my own hand for control of it. The phone vibrated slightly. Or did it? It vibrated again. Was it the vibrating of an infernal machine? Or merely questions about dinner? Who were the messages from? Who? WHO?!
So, yes. I folded. Repeatedly.
My other half, whom I love to death, has a strange quirk that I’ve never noticed before. She messages me back just after I put the phone down. Not immediately, but immediately after my patience runs out. And she always finishes a text with a question.
Needless to say, the count skyrocketed. Drastic action was needed.
I came to the conclusion that I’d switch the phone off. It wasn’t cheating. It was within the rules. (Of which there are none.) Perfik.
Except for … well, I’m unsure if this counts towards the total, but, I’m sorry to say, I cheated. After the server was repaired, it was my job to update the business Twitter regarding the outage, and explaining why. I also took this opportunity to check my own personal Twitter, for “business reasons.”
Mercifully, the bell rang and I was sent home. I had lost count, and on the return commute, I was beyond caring. By the time I got home, I was a mental wreck, completely shamed by my performance. Bae asked me how my day was. I said nothing.
And no, I won’t disclose the actual figure, but it was ugly. Triple figures ugly.