As I lifted my arm to brush my abnormally long hair, my Apple Watch slipped off my wrist. When it hit the tile, the thud echoed against the walls, reminding me of the sound my son’s head made when smacking the pavement after he slipped on the pool deck. That incident warranted a trip to the emergency room, but the doctor didn’t even do an MRI, assuring me, “Heads are built to last.” Surely, my watch could survive this hit too. My heart raced as I scooped it into my hands. The clasp had been giving me issues, but I never imagined it would give out completely. (You’d think a ten-dollar Target clearance band would be more reliable.) But, unlike my son’s head that was made to survive and endure, the screen on my watch had shattered. As I ran my fingers over it, tears momentarily came to my eyes. Ever since my sister gave her to me many years ago, we’d been together day and night. Yes, she was second hand, but I had come to rely on her, to tell the time, to alert me to messages. What would my life be like with her gone?
When I woke the next day, the sight of my naked wrist sent shivers down my spine. At Publix, I heard the familiar ding of an incoming message, only to realize it wasn’t coming from my watch. Noting my sadness, the bakery lady offered me a chocolate chip cookie while she sliced my bread. “Acceptance is always part of the battle when dealing with loss,” she told me. “You lost an Apple Watch too?” I asked, while consuming my cookie in two bites. She didn’t respond, but her eyes told me she had. I came home intent on moving forward and prepared for how my life would be different now without my Apple Watch. But the craziest thing happened. It didn’t change at all. The world kept turning as if it didn’t matter that I now had one less tether to the digital world. I still got my texts, just now only on my phone and not on my phone and my watch. Half the time when I answered a call on my watch, I couldn’t hear anyway, and ended up running through the house to find my phone. My phone alerted me to my son’s Dexcom alerts, just like my watch did. It made me question why I got one to begin with. What purpose does an Apple Watch serve if every feature is redundant of the phone I have with me 24-7? Do I really need two devices providing me constant access to the time and my incoming messages?
Yes, in some instances, I would only have my watch on me and my phone would be in my bag, but is that really a bad thing? Why do we feel we need to be constantly available and accessible to the world? I spent my childhood sharing one phone among four sisters and survived. Yet, now societal norms make us feel that we have to be plugged in at all times, and we ignore the larger costs we pay for that: including increasing levels of ADHD and rising suicidal levels among young adults exposed to social media. Young adults who use social media are three times as likely to suffer from depression and 53% more likely to develop ADHD.
I’m active on social media because I won’t be published without a platform. Publishing and social media are entwined, pushing us authors to create content and generate likes even if our minds have become numb to doing so. And yes, I get that an Apple Watch isn’t used for social media per se, but it’s a link to it. Not every DM or tweet has to be instantly read. It also feeds into how insanely expensive living has become. With every generation, we add a new “must have” item for you and each of your family member. First, computers. Then, smart phones. Then, tablets. Then, smart watches. We don’t need all these things. One or two should suffice. But we are trained to think we need them. It will never end unless we learn to cut the cord.
In the end, I realized not only did I not miss my Apple Watch, I found I breathed better without it. Not responding to every phone call or text within minutes felt liberating. I spent the other night making a homemade piñata with my daughter ignoring my phone. (Clearly, I posted about it later, but it was adorable and needed to be shared.) That being said, my watch did track my steps, and that part I miss. My husband always scoffed when I ran across the room to get it before climbing into bed never wanting to miss getting credit for any activity. Wink, Wink. But, as he noted, not having my steps tracked on my Apple Watch doesn’t negate that I took them. To quote Kevin Schmid, “If a bear shits in the woods, he still shits even if no one is there to record it, share it on social media or make a meme about it.”
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