Elizabeth Lindell: I used to have a dysfunctional relationship with my iPhone. It came with me to the pool, to the farmer's market, to Pilates and even to the bathtub -- all of the places a phone is not necessary. When I brought it with me on our family vacation to Yosemite recently, the only thing my smartphone was good for was playing Danny Kaye's rendition of "The Ugly Ducking" for my 4-year-old niece over and over again.
Being unplugged on a mountain for four days with no phone service, no television and no Internet was one of the best things to happen to my family. My daughter normally spends a great deal of her day engaged with a computer, but for those four days, she didn't have time to realize its absence. From the moment we woke up to the moment our heads hit the pillow, we were engaged with one another, talking, hiking, exploring and discovering the land and one another.
On one of those hikes, my mom, my daughter and I found ourselves near a stream. We took off our shoes and enjoyed the water. I looked over at my mom cooling her toes and my daughter summoning a group of ducks and reached into my bag where my phone normally would have been.
"I don't have my phone," I said. "I can't take a picture."
"Well, you'll just have to make one in your memory," my mom said. I did. For the first time in a long time, I gave myself permission to absorb the view with all of my senses, without feeling pressure to capture the moment with an electronic device or immediately share and record my experience on Twitter or Facebook. I can still see the photo clear in my mind, but the stream is running, the sun is warm on my skin and I can smell my mom's sunscreen and hear my child's laughter. Much better than anything I have in iPhoto.
Tomorrow I'm spending the day outside in the pool with my daughter and without my phone, soaking up the last few precious days of summer. Any important calls, texts or e-mails will be stored and waiting for me at the end of the day. After all, isn't that what a smartphone is intended for?