NICKY MARR: Phones don't have to have negative effect
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Radio Scotland phoned the other day to ask how much I love my mobile phone. Specifically, does my mobile phone impact my marriage? Because apparently, we are each spending a third of our waking hours each day on our phones, and research suggests that is negatively impacting our relationships.
“Negatively impacting?” I asked? And then I started laughing. If anything, if it wasn’t for our mobile phones, Mr Marr and I wouldn’t have a marriage.
It is five years this week since he accepted a job running The Edinburgh Playhouse, and we decided to try “split-city living”.
He wasn’t certain the job would be for him (although it is) and I wasn’t certain I was ready to leave the Highlands (I’m not). So, we found him a wee flat, and, after 29 years of living together, started living together apart.
To be fair, it’s had its ups and downs. For various reasons I’ve not spent as much time in Edinburgh as we’d both imagined I would. And I’ve learned that I’m rubbish at cooking when it’s just for one. ‘On toast’ is a common theme.
And at times I’ve been lonely, despite still having all my friends here.
I resent having to make my own cup of tea every morning. I find it frustrating having to handle domestic things myself; our smoke alarms are too high for me to reach when batteries need replaced, I’ve just noticed the car has a flat tyre, and I’ve had to deal with the mice that moved in under the sink.
But we’ve made it work – so far – and that’s largely thanks to our phones.
The day starts with Wordle – whoever solves it first will share and pile the pressure on. Then there’s a text exchange, and usually a chat while he’s on the bus to work; I’ll head out for a walk at the same time. There will be more messages and Facetimes throughout the day, plus chat with the girls too on our WhatsApp chat. We’ll comment on each other’s social media, and there’s usually a catch up in the evening too.
Yes, our conversations are remote, but that doesn’t make them any less meaningful. Crucially, neither of us will be “on our phones”, scrolling social media or reading news sites while we are talking, so the focus is absolute.
And it’s not just my marriage that benefits from my phone. Friendships are stronger through daily contact. Friends who live on the other side of the world – and next door – are no further than a WhatsApp message away.
And time can be spent chatting and giggling, long into the night, with people who can’t just be there. A shared meme, a photo memory, or a quick “thinking of you” can take seconds to send but mean the world.
I’m probably a wee bit addicted, but that’s a story for another day. For now, though, I’ll remain glued to my phone, and be grateful for the connections it gives me.