The late Diana, Princess of Wales, sent shockwaves around the world when she spoke to Martin Bashir during a Panorama interview in 1995 and dropped the bombshell comment “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.”
These words now apply to many relationships and not because of the presence of another person. For many couples and indeed family life in general, the third party is technology and most intrusive of all, the mobile phone.
The Times carried a quiz this week “Are you addicted” which was composed of 15 questions related to mobile phone use. It only had two categories in the answers. The first and lower category had a result of “you may have a compulsive phone use pattern” and the higher category suggested “you might consider seeing a psychologist.”
The questions covered areas such as if you feel uncomfortable if you have left your phone behind or have no service and when your phone beeps do you feel an intense urge to check it? I am guilty on both counts and of others too, such as spending more time staring at the phone than I realise and sleeping with it (turned on) and next to the bed.
I have been feeling uneasy about my mobile phone for a while. I have two – one is for work and the other personal. I have become conscious of the number of times I either refer to my personal phone to look something up when I am speaking to my daughter or a friend to check something while we are talking. My daughter does the same to me and reports going out with her university friends where large amounts of time are spent not talking, but with everyone busily engaged with their phones.
How did we ever do without this technology and before emails and texts? It is now an essential part of our business and personal lives and it is wonderful. However, I remember when my daughter was very young, one babysitter spent so much time glued to her phone instead of interacting with my child that I had fantasies of throwing the phone down the toilet.
In The Times article, Polly Vernon described her phone as “It is my slender box of magic, a portal to other dimensions” and I can really relate to this.
In the early days of Twitter, I was a very enthusiastic user and clocked up 11,500 tweets. Now, I have lost interest in it for anything other than effective business communication.
In my working life, my business phone is an essential and useful tool and I use it solely as an aid. I am comfortable with this.
However, I am going to try a weekend with my personal phone switched off to see if I can resist checking emails, reading papers, looking at my internet banking, Facebook, Twitter and the game I am currently enjoying. It may make me feel anxious initially but I suspect it will give me more time to think and provide a better quality of communication with those who truly matter in my life.