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Our Reading Lives

Reading, Interrupted… By My iPhone.

Wallace Yovetich

Staff Writer

Wallace Yovetich grew up in a home where reading was preferred to TV, playing outside was actually fun, and she was thrilled when her older brothers weren’t home so she could have a turn on the Atari. Now-a-days she watches a bit more TV, and considers sitting on the porch swing (with her laptop) “playing outside”. She still thinks reading is preferable to most things, though she’d really like to find out where her mom put that old Atari (Frogger addicts die hard). She runs a series of Read-a-Longs throughout the year (as well as posting fun bookish tidbits throughout the week) on her blog, Unputdownables. After teaching for seven years, Wallace is now an aspiring writer. Blog: Unputdownables Twitter: @WallaceYovetich

“What are you reading right now?” I asked a friend’s mom, who is an avid reader. I had last loaned her Life After Life after taking a couple of weeks to finish it, and she read it in a couple of days.

“Nothing,” She replied. “I’ve hardly read anything since I got this,” she said, pointing to her iPhone. She went on to explain that between watching her Twitter home page and reading articles she saw there, playing Words With Friends, and catching up on the ever-streaming world of news brought directly to her palm, she hardly feels like she has the time to read anymore (and also feels like she’s reading all day anyway… on her phone).

As I’m writing this, my phone is dinging with texts and I’ve already had two alerts that it’s my turn in games on Words With Friends. I’m actively not checking email to see if I’ve gotten a confirmation for something I ordered a few minutes ago, and would be tempted to check Instagram if I hadn’t just done so about an hour ago.

As ridiculous as this sounds, I’ve always blamed my growing lack of attention on the TV, and therefore also my lack of being able to stick to a book until I’m invested enough to be absorbed. When I look at it more closely, though, I realize it’s not the TV. I’ve always had the TV, and, even if at younger ages I wasn’t able to watch it whenever I wanted, I’ve still always had it around. The truth is I don’t actually watch an excessive amount of TV… and when I am watching TV, I’ve noticed I’m almost always doing something else as well: playing on my phone. GASP! What have I uncovered? A new scapegoat for not reading? Exactly, my friends.

Am I addicted to my iPhone? And, if so, is that addiction to blame for the ridiculous downturn in my reading since I’ve gotten a smartphone (in general)? After thinking about this, I decided I should go for at least two days only using my phone to talk and check texts (on a scheduled basis). Day one to get over the itch to grab my phone every five minutes and day two to actually see what happened when I didn’t. Want to know what happened to my brain after I proposed THAT idea to myself? It fried. Sizzled. Went up in smoke. And then my heart stopped beating.

Do they have centers for iPhone addicts?

So, what do you think? Does your phone distract you from reading more? Have your reading habits changed since getting a smart phone… having the world, virtually, in the palm of your hand?

… and most importantly, should I do it? Should I try the two day iPhone diet? It’s up to you, Dear Readers. I’m leaving my fate in your hands.


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