My husband loves Apple products so when the watch came out, I knew he'd buy it. After he brought home the box, slowly unpeeled the wrapping, and pulled the watch out of its package, I wanted one too. It was surprising because I never pegged myself for an Apple watch user, but seeing Matt enjoy his so much made me envious. I loved my watch when I bought it, secretly reading text messages on it when it would otherwise be socially inappropriate, tracking heart rate and calories burned at every hot yoga class, and checking mileage on weekend walks. So what happened? Well, my husband and I went on vacation for 10 days and decided to leave the watches at home. We returned home feeling present, mindful, and totally balanced. When I put my watch back on and went about my routine in the days following, its former absence made me acutely aware of every notification, and how they took me out of the present moment. The watch made it impossible to unplug, quiet everything, get fully present. I realized the constant stream of notifications felt distracting, and increased my anxiety. Group texts were the worst as the watch would be constantly vibrating on my wrist every 10 seconds or so. I didn't find the watch fashionable enough to wear without the notifications feature though so then what?
I started out leaving the watch home when I went to yoga class and felt this space open up in my psyche, mind, life, as I no longer had to worry about turning on the exercise app at the beginning and end of class, feeling it in certain postures, or seeing the screen flash as I rotated my hand during class distracted by the calorie count illuminated on the screen. I also realized, for me, the calorie count didn't matter. The information tracked at the end of my yoga class wasn't truly necessary as I would have been taking those classes regardless. I wasn't 'doing' anything with the information gathered, so why was I gathering it? Was the watch using me, instead of the other way around? In the very least, I wasn't using my watch intentionally. Fastening it to my wrist had become a habitual part of my morning routine, but I never stopped to think more deeply about the 'why' I was tethering this piece of technology to my body day after day. I wasn't stopping to weigh if what I gained from this accessory was greater than what it took. After this realization I stopped wearing it completely, trading it out for a lovely simple gold watch my dad had given me. My mind had forgotten what it was like to get lost in work, free from distractions, completely in flow with whatever you're focused on. It was lovely. Interruptions kill productivity and I found that the Apple watch, with all of the notifications, felt like interruption after interruption. I know I could turn off the notifications, but then why wear it at all really? Did I truly need to track my calories burned, and heart rate every day? Nope. Did I need to get my text messages, emails, and social media 'likes' in real time? Nope. What I needed was simplicity. What I needed was to get back to living life as close to nature as possible, without the distractions, and 'improvements' technology tells us we need. Is my life free from distractions now? Absolutely not, but I have felt calmer, more grounded, and present since setting the watch aside. I may pick it up again from time to time, but before I do strap it on, I will be clear about what its job is, and how I plan to use it with intention. This was just my personal experience with the watch, and I realized I didn't need the features it had to offer in my day to day life. For others, however, the information provided may add value so it's definitely a matter of personal opinion. The important point, however, is the act of thinking critically about the 'why' you would be using/or buying a product, whether it adds value to your life, and using it intentionally so it doesn't end up using you.