This Edgewater Woman is Going Tech-Free for a Full Year

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What if we told you you had to go technology-free for one year — powering down your iPhone and laptop — and instead, going old-school 80s and 90s-style Princess landline phone for the duration of 2016 and most of 2017. Could you do it? 

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While most of us would say “NO!” and clutch our smartphones to our chest protectively, 29-year-old Edgewater resident Iris Tirri is breaking the mold. The mom of three realized she had missed her 16-month-old son’s first steps all because she hadn’t looked up from her phone — and she knew she something had to give. So, she decided to go cold turkey on technology — and is getting rid of her iPhone and any internet for a full year, starting September 19, 2016. She’ll be documenting everything for 365 days with a PEN AND PAPER.

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^Iris and her oldest daughter, Melissa

“I’ve had the idea to disconnect for awhile now,” the 29-year-old mom of three shared exclusively with HobokenGirl.com. “But I started to take it more seriously several months ago. All the kids were home playing and, I was looking down at my phone. I was scrolling aimlessly through my newsfeed doing nothing of importance and all of a sudden [my daughter] Melissa started yelling at me to look up. Frankie [my son] was walking! I had missed his first steps.” The mom to 17-month-old twin sons and a seven-year-old daughter shares that this was truly the moment she knew she was going to give up her iPhone — at least for a little while.

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But the road to this realization and commitment hasn’t been easy. To go tech-free, it seems one must prepare extensively to alert every tech-obsessed friend and relative about the impending blackout {seriously, how will people know it’s your birthday? Or that you want to meet for dinner? Landlines? Snail mail!? This all sounds complicated}. Luckily, we got a chance to chat with Iris about her vow of iPhone {and other technology} celibacy — which she is committing to for a full year {Editor’s note: holy $@*&!}. Read below for the full interview of how this came to be and what requirements she’ll be sticking to.

This is quite a commitment. A full year! How does your husband {and family} feel about it?

My husband has been very supportive about the whole idea. I think it’s mixed with a bit of skepticism on if I can actually follow through with it for a whole year. My family took it personally. My mother in particular — ‘I’ll text and call less!’ she’s begged. But it’s not about that. It’s so easy to just shoot one another a quick text here or there daily, but we can go weeks without having an actual conversation. I hope this changes that.

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So that sounds like you’ll be allowed to talk on the phone. Landlines are ok?

Yes to landlines! Basically I want to recreate the simpler times of my own childhood [the 80s and 90s]. The landline was a big part of that. I can still remember my best friends phone number from 1st grade! Disconnecting isn’t about losing touch with the ones I love.

What else are you doing to prepare for your September 19th kickoff?

I’ve bought a retro dial up phone and having a landline installed. I’ve also purchased a vinyl record player and radio. I have a polaroid camera for that instant gratification photo you need as a parent. I even bought a selfie lens for the polaroid. I plan to take it around with me as I would my iPhone. I’ll let you know how long that lasts.

How do you feel about safety as far as not having a phone?

Safety is a good question — and a stickier one. I think a phone can be an amazing link to help you if you are in real danger. But since I’ve had a cell phone for 15 years now, I can count on less then 5 fingers when it’s actually been used for emergencies. I do have OnStar in my car. So if God forbid I were in an accident, I could push a button and have help on the way — which is another amazing thing about technology. I have to give it credit where it deserves it.

Well let’s hope that doesn’t happen. Accidents aside, what are your biggest fears about it?

Fears!? Gosh everything. I think it’s going to be one of the most difficult things I ever do. How silly does that sound? All I’m doing is tucking my cell phone away and not allowing myself the Internet. It’s not like I’m climbing Everest! But truly, I am scared.

Let’s stick to positives then — what about it are you most excited about?

I am most excited about finding quiet within my own head. I’m constantly mentally multitasking. The phone contributes to that.

What do you think you’re going to miss the most when it comes to your iPhone?

Navigation, Instagram filters, theSkimm, wine delivery — and not necessarily in that order.

iris with her new camera

How will you be documenting your days {since clearly Instagram and FB are out}? Journaling?

I will be documenting this through journaling yes and, I will actually use my laptop. As much as I love a hand written letter, I don’t know if I could do without the ease of typing. I plan to end every day with ‘what I would have googled today’ entry.

That’s clever. So is it all electronics or just smartphone? Is the television okay?

Not all electronics. I respect the Amish. But I’m not totally there. It’s more smart phone and the internet-related in my case, which conveniently disconnects me from things like navigation, Pandora, and email. Yes to television. I’m not a big TV person in general but, I do enjoy a good movie. Basically if it was okay for my grandma who is 90, I’m allowing it. And Grandma had a TV.

Can you take photos? What kind of camera will you use?

I can take photos. Just not digital ones. I’m one of those people who will do a photo over and over until it’s perfect. But then it sort of loses the perfect. Because your husband and kids are annoyed. Going back to basics eliminates that but, still allows me to document my family growing. I have a Polaroid and an old school Pentax.

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^Iris with her husband Brian and their three children

It sounds like you enjoyed your less technology-filled childhood.

I grew up in Cape Cod, Massachussets — right on the beach! I didn’t have a television until I was 10. My parents were taking me to health food stores and meditating long before it was hip. Some people go to sleep away camps and kayak, but I went to Kripalu to practice yoga. I never had a microwave until college and still don’t trust those things. So I guess you can say this project will allow me to go back to my roots.

We are totes kindred spirits! Except I would die without technology {and we wouldn’t be having this conversation, ha}. But in all seriousness, do you think this commitment will work for your current work/life situation?

I am currently staying home with our children. I’m looking forward to this project — as I think it will really push me to write — which is what I love to do. I’ve signed up for classes at the Gotham Writers Work Shop in NYC, and I am really looking forward to them. I have a BA in English from URI, so taking new classes in NY makes me very happy.

What do you hope to accomplish by doing this for a year?

I hope it allows me to be more present in my children’s life. I don’t want to miss any more moments scrolling absentmindedly through my Facebook newsfeed. I don’t want to be the people on the bench while the sun is setting just staring at their phones. I don’t want to be so engrossed in my group chats that I ignore what my husband is saying. I don’t want to be so concerned about the perfect photo that I miss the special moment.

Touché. Kind of gets us thinking… Should we declare September 19th as a tech-free day for all? Hmmm… Either way, a “brave” feat nowadays in our tech- and social-media-obsessed world. Kudos, Iris! Can’t wait to hear how it goes. Can you snail mail us your musings every now and then? 

We’ll see how it goes. In the meantime, send me a carrier pigeon, write me a letter, I’ll look out for smoke signals or, call me, you know — like we use to do in the 90’s.

So while she’s not going 100% tech-free, she’s going 100% ‘Grandma’-tech-free {anything sans iPhone is pretty impressive in our book, not gonna lie}. Would you be able to go tech-free for a year? What would be the thing you’d miss the most?

 


Written by:

Jen is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of HobokenGirl.com. With deep entrepreneurial roots in Hudson County — as her grandparents owned textile businesses on Tonnelle Ave in North Bergen dating back to the 50s — she started the site as a Hoboken resident to discover the amazing things happening in the area. When not planning the next Hoboken Girl event or #HobokenGirlHelps volunteer project, she can usually be found shopping at local boutiques, eating an Insta-worthy meal, walking her two pups, or watching Bravo TV and ordering takeout with her husband.