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Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus help over 20 million people live meaningful lives with less through their website, books, podcast, and documentary. The Minimalists have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Forbes, TIME, ABC, CBS, NBC, BBC, CBC, and NPR.

Why Is My Phone About to Die?

I am seated in a rocking chair at Dayton International Airport, flight delayed, thumbing through tweets, photos, and various bits of miscellanea on the device in my palm while I wait to find out whether my next flight will be canceled. Everyone around me seems to be doing the same thing. We are a sea of people lost in the mesmerizing glow of our screens—alone together.

Suddenly, an ominous red bar interrupts my handheld activities, accompanied by a warning: low battery.

My first reaction: frustration, irritation, annoyance. Why the hell is my phone about to die? I can’t believe this stupid freaking thing!

Of course, I have been pacifying myself for the last hour (or two), frantically fiddling with the touchscreen, hopping from icon to icon, searching for the next ephemeral rush of dopamine. My behavior: reactionary and impulsive and the opposite of mindful. These activities, when done in excess, are as meaningless as channel surfing, resulting in an endless amount of low-level anxiety—a sort of postmodern itch, not unlike that of a heroin addict as he stumbles through withdrawal.

But it’s not my phone’s fault, it’s mine: rarely does the blame belong to the material thing itself. The stuff is not the problem—we are.

Realizing this, I set down the phone and breathe in the world around me, but only after sending one final tweet:

If your phone is constantly “about to die,” then maybe it’s not the phone that has a problem.

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