Who’s in Charge?

Nov 18, 2019 by Tom Pyke

Are you controlling your smartphone, or is it leading you around on its high-tech leash? If you have lots of notifications turned on, you probably get beeped and bonked at several times an hour, maybe more. If you have lots of friends and are in constant contact, you can be inundated by texts alone.

Maybe we want to be led around all day by our smartphones, smart speakers (hello, Alexa!), and driver-assist gizmos on our cars. But I bet most of us want to reap the benefits of smart tech in our lives, yet remain in charge. We may cease control for short periods after we have initiated a dialog with Siri or while we are waiting for a notification or two based on something we did, but that’s not the same as giving over control.

We have become so reliant on the smart tech in our lives that it may feel like we are surrounded and maybe a little subservient to our high-tech assistants. Or maybe we have let them take over in some important ways. We may have done this intentionally, or they may have taken over by default if we haven’t pushed back by minimizing the number of notifications we receive, not answering the phone immediately, delaying our response to emails and texts, or taking a timeout once or twice a day or more often.

What are the signs that your high-tech helpers have taken over? Do you leave your phone on the table while you are at dinner with friends? Do you leave the ringer on without turning it down while you’re with out with others, in a meeting, or just having a conversation? Why do you do this? Are you afraid you may miss something that needs your attention within a few seconds or minutes? Are you anxious about being relevant to other people, and you think you may not be if you don’t drop everything and respond post haste? Or, maybe, you’re anxious in general about your high-tech devices, so you’ve developed a habit of doing everything they tell you—like responding to every notification and text right away—for fear they may make your life miserable.

If you’ve let your tech take over, don’t worry. It’s not too late to rein it in. You just need to establish a little balance in your life. Make some time for your tech, friends and family, and yourself. That’s right, you need a little alone time—without the tech stuff. At night, some people put their smart tech in another room while it charges, or— horrors!—turn it off. They say they get a better night’s sleep. Remember to also adjust the settings on your apps to reduce the number of notifications you receive. That way, you can enjoy life more, with fewer interruptions—and you can do what you want to do, not what your smartphone and its apps are trying to get you to do.