My boyfriend is a pretty good one in most regards, but he is addicted to his iPhone. It's never off his person, whether in a pocket or in his hand. He checks it constantly, at every break in activity or conversation, and often during activities and conversations. He tweets, Facebooks, emails and texts many friends and family dozens of times a day. At a restaurant, or on the couch watching TV, he's checking it. I'm no Luddite. I love my iPhone and social networks too. But this is excessive. I feel like I never have his total attention. Of course we've argued about it but it hasn't helped. What should I do? If I were to establish some ground rules, what would they look like? I'm about to smash the thing or throw it into the Bay.
He Said: While anyone under the age of 50 feels the addictive pull of social media, your BF’s behavior is downright rude. Sounds like you already have a solid sense of what the ground rules should be, which would ban the use of the phone (except in the case of emergencies) when you are spending dedicated "quality" time together. The struggle will be to define quality time, but I would certainly include meals, movies, walks, bedtime—anything that you actively plan to enjoy together. Exceptions can be made for when you are hanging out doing nothing in particular, such as watching TV, cooking, or cleaning. Of course the challenge will be enforcing the rules because, like the Verizon ad shows, it's easy to cheat via fake bathroom visits, smoking breaks, walks around the block, and sly typing under the table. But I would not frame this as an "argument" or "debate." Checking your phone constantly in the presence of friends or loved ones is simply unacceptable behavior, and should be treated as such.
She Said: I’m sure you’ve spoken for many women and men with your question. And the guidelines offered above seem reasonable to me. The way I see it, our smart phones and the plethora of constant connectivity they offer are just like any other of life’s pleasures—meant to be enjoyed in moderation, and blatantly unhealthy when overused. Most of us love ice cream, but would your boyfriend spoon Häagen Dazs into his mouth 24/7? We all like the occasional drink, but does he takes a slug of vodka upon waking and carry the bottle around with him? Exercise is a vital daily activity, but if he were to run on a treadmill 16 hours a day, he’d be dead in short order.
Just like food, drink, sleep, exercise, and any other of life’s basic functions, social media demands of its users discernment and discipline. A person who obsessively texts, tweets, or Facebooks announces to the entire world that his impulses have the better of him. Ask your boyfriend if he wants to be a well-rounded man who knows how to interact with physical as well as virtual reality, or if he’d rather be an addict. If that doesn’t wake him up, you have my permission to throw the phone into the Bay.
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