Marybeth Bordeau Flynn



The iPhone X was about to drop and I was thinking about an upgrade. But after the last time I went down this road, I was self-diagnosed with iAnxiety. It was when I went from the iPhone 4 to the 6, and let’s just say 6 and I got off to a rocky start.

Within a month, the screen on my new 6 went blue, then red, then blinking red.

My stomach sank.

I tried the power button. More red flashes. I tried resetting. No dice.

My pulse quickened. I took some deep breaths. It will be okay, I told myself.

“Look at this!” I said to my sleeping husband. My blinking phone, the only light in the room, illuminated his face.

“Reset,” he murmured.

“I already tried,” I whined. Blink blink blink, went the red light, as though it was sticking its tongue out at me.

“Make an appointment with a Genius tomorrow,” he said.

Defeated, I set it on my nightstand, glancing at it regularly, like I was checking to see if my infant was still breathing.

The next morning, I dug out my laptop to book a Genius—all before my morning coffee, because … priorities.

My hands shook as I typed, but not from lack of caffeine. It was a very real anxiety about not having my phone. Choosing to unplug is liberating, but this was not on my terms. 

I suddenly knew how Johnny Cash must have felt when June Carter flushed his pills down the toilet at that hotel in Vegas, or how Sue on Intervention felt when her daughter intercepted all her secret vodka stashes.

This shaking. This twitching.

I was addicted to my iPhone.

The store closest to me didn’t have appointment availability for 4 days, and the closest same-day appointment was a 35-minute drive. I took it. At least I was on the books.

In the meantime, I charged my phone and it came to life. Yes!

Blinking red.

I held it close to my mouth. “Fuck yoouuuuu,” I whispered.

On my drive to see the Genius, I did some reflecting. Why was I so obsessed with being connected? What, exactly, was I worried about missing?

A sale on Gilt? #tbt posts on Facebook? Clever cat memes on Instagram?

This was an irrational obsession.

I got to the mall in plenty of time to have lunch, and sat alone with my soup while everyone else scrolled their phones.

Look at them, I thought. So afraid to be alone with their thoughts.

My chest tightened. I was jealous.

Maybe I’d see if I could get in a little early.

The Apple greeter escorted me to the Genius Bar to wait for Maurice. As it turns out, he was right beside me, so I could size him up.

By my estimation, Maurice was 23, max. The customer he was helping with her iPad seemed pretty calm and not at all twitchy like me. After some eavesdropping I learned it was her dad’s iPad. Once removed. That explains it.

I feigned patience while setting my phone face up on the table, hoping the flashing red light would distract Maurice. It worked.

“Uh-oh,” he said. “Red screen. That’s not good.”

The iPad owner gave me a sympathetic look. “Good luck,” she mouthed, and was on her way.

Maurice was all mine.

“Let’s take a look. I’ll know in a couple of minutes if it’s fixable or not.”

He plugged it in, pushed the same buttons I did the night before and determined that, indeed, it could not be repaired.

Thanks, Genius.

When he offered me a new phone I expressed concern over losing 30 days of photos.

“No worries,” he said. We’ll just pull them down from the Cloud. How often do you back up?”

“Pretty regularly,” I said.

Lie. I hated the Cloud.

“This says you haven’t backed up since 2016.” He didn’t wait for a response and kept on typing.

Within moments he announced that my new phone was updated.

“Enter your password,” he said, kind of smugly.

I did, and I found myself staring at a picture of Augusta National. Wrong contacts. Wrong apps. Organized the wrong way. My armpits prickled. A bead of sweat rolled down my back.

Not so fast, Maurice.

“This is my husband’s stuff,” I told him as I scrolled. “We share an account.” He took the phone back and kept working. I had to look away.

I tuned into to a woman next to me. “Wait,” she said to her own personal Genius. “Are you saying I’m going to lose all pictures from the last 3 years?!? Don’t restart. Do not restart!”

Girl, I feel you, I thought.

When Maurice prompted me to enter my password again, I saw the familiar picture of my dog. I swiped through. My apps, my contacts.

Sweet relief.

Later, I recapped my day for my husband.

“I really need to find a way to detach myself from my phone. It’s not healthy!” I declared, then took a sip of Cab.

“Maybe you should start meditating,” he suggested.

What a fantastic idea. I should start meditating!

I think I have an app for that.

Marybeth Bordeau