I was with a 84-year-old friend today who cheerfully admits to being a dinosaur. Aside from a very old flip-phone (which his daughter insisted on purchasing) he owns no electronic devices.
This is a man who has written several novels and writes a regular column for his local newspaper. Longhand.
His latest column was titled “iPad, iPod, iPhone… iDon’t” and he happily riffed on his old-fashioned ways.
I do own a fair number of those newfangled items. Right now, I’m sitting with a laptop on my lap, and a smartphone and iPad beside me. (My excuse is that I’m texting with my sister on the phone and playing scrabble on the iPad.)
Sometimes it feels as if I’m married to the devices. Can’t leave the house without the phone. Moved up to a smartphone so I could check e-mail on the road. Bought the iPad because the laptop was too heavy for traveling. Use all three all the time.
My habit for several years has been to turn off my computer on Friday afternoon and leave it off until after Shabbat ends on Saturday evening. It’s been a small, but personally significant, way to separate sacred from secular time and is part of a progressive move towards greater Shabbat observance. Although I initially thought it would be a hardship, I’ve learned to enjoy the computer-less time, which often extends well into Sunday.
But I do use the phone on Shabbat. And now that my phone pings every time I get an e-mail or text message, or when a friend makes a move in scrabble, I’m finding that what was once easy has become increasingly difficult.
The solution? I’m thinking it’s time for a divorce and joining my friend saying iDon’t… at least on Shabbat.