What’s in your phone, Tracey Cleantis?

Tracey Cleantis is a writer and a practicing psychotherapist. She writes from both sides of the couch, providing her readers with real-world applications of psychological theories. You can find her writing at her blog, La Belette Rouge, and at Freudian Sip, an online column for Psychology Today. She also writes for Huffington Post, has been featured on Fox News and has appeared in Psychologies Magazine, Redbook, Yahoo News, Salon.com, Forest and Bluff and Sheridan Road. She has published essays, fiction, and poetry in various publications (including the Sojourner and Mode Magazine), and her writings on her dog-aughter, Lily, appear in Jamie Cat Callan’s Bonjour, Happiness!. She is presently at work on a book with the working title of What happens when dreams don’t come true and how to live happily ever after anyway, which is about how to move on and let go and discover an unexpected happy ending.

“What’s in your phone?” is our ongoing series of interviews with women about the apps they use. (We already know what’s in your bag…)

Q: What mobile device(s) do you have and in what situations do you use them?

A: I have an iPhone 4. And I am okay with that. I don’t want the 5. Is that weird? I don’t like the size and weight of the 5. I suppose when the 6 comes out I will have to give in and move on and move up. Anyway, I use my phone all day. I use it for home, work, and leisure. It is my transitional object, as Winnicott might say.

Q: What are the first apps you open every day?

A: E-mail first to see if I have any cancellations. Facebook second, for reasons I am not entirely sure about. I suppose, that truth be told, it is to see Westie pictures on the Westitude group. Westie pictures make me happy.

Tracey Cleantis interview

Q: What extras do you have (covers, bags, sleeves, dangly things…)?

A: I have a protective case on my phone. Only it is usually only half on. I mostly don’t know where the other half is. I have to take off the case in order to use the credit card swiper attachment thingy. The case has also endured some hard falls and the corners are chipped away. I need a new case and yet I have some resistance to buying a new one. Noticing a theme?

Q: Do you use apps mostly for practical purposes, entertainment, creation, socializing, or something else?

A: I am all over the place in my app usage. I would say I have a good balance between practical and entertainment (I play Bejeweled when I need to kill time, and my score is currently at 1,230,200, so that tells you how often I play) and I too frequently use it for social networking (Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook). I don’t use any creation apps, but I do write a lot of blog posts and book chapters on my phone. That said, I only write on my phone when I have to. It is most definitely not my favorite place to write. I actually prefer pen and paper. I use my GPS Plus everyday. I use GoPayment to process credit card payments for patients. I am constantly on the Yelp app, it is how I decide where to eat or where to get my nails done. I go to my lifestyle apps almost daily to chose movies I want to see, get tickets for events, register for spin classes, etc. I don’t, actually, use a lot of productivity applications. I do like Wunderlist a lot, as I am a big list maker and it certainly creates a much more organized list than just using Notes. I also use it to shop with alarming frequency with the Amazon and Sephora apps (they make it far too easy to shop and not realize you have actually just spent money). MyPlate, Nike + Ipod, and MapMyRun allow me to be conscious of how much and/or how little I am exercising and/or making healthy or unhealthy choices. I don’t have a wine log app but I have been wanting one lately. I hate when I love a wine at a restaurant and then I get home and discover I have forgotten the name of the wine. There has to be an app for that!

Q: In what ways have apps enhanced your life? In what ways do you think apps have enhanced society? Or hurt it?

A: I guess I would say that I am more organized, on time and efficient thanks to apps. But I do feel like I am less likely to get lost and discover something new by happenstance or synchronicity. Because of my app dependence, I wouldn’t dare try a restaurant without seeing what Yelpers think about it first. However, I do tend to try more new restaurants and not frequent the same ones over again and again, as I used to, because Yelp reviews gives me the confidence to try an unknown place. A downside for me might be that I am more likely to order what 500 Yelpers recommend than I am to try what sounds good to me. Maybe in someway my Yelp reliance is making me trust myself a little less and hand my choices over to a collective other that I don’t actually know. I am not sure if there are deeper or more far reaching consequences of this, but it is something I am aware of and occasionally struggle with.

Another app issue that I am conscious of is that when I am bored or waiting in line or in need of entertainment to make the time pass, because of apps I am much less likely to daydream or turn to a magazine in a waiting room or engage in conversation with a stranger as I have my phone to turn to; in a way the phone is a self-contained world for me that makes me feel safe and connected no matter where I am, as long as my phone is charged. But when I run out of juice, I can feel an increased anxiety about being out of touch. Each time I am aware of that anxiety I become aware of how the phone helps to create an illusion of constant connection and serve as a triumph over isolation and loneliness, and yet there is evidence that all of this constant connection actually makes us feel more alone. There are times when I want to confront that illusion and put my phone down and really engage with my environment, and there are other times, I am ashamed to admit, that playing Solitaire or checking Facebook seems a preferable escape.

Q: What would be your desert island app?

A: The app that my dog Lily is the star of, Gray Kitty and the Christmas Kitten. I also did the narration for that app. However, it is Lily’s cute face that makes me visit this darling story app over and over.

Q: What’s the most embarrassing app in your phone? ‘Fess up!

A: I didn’t know there were embarrassing apps. Okay, now that you mention it, I do have Gangnam Dance Booth on my phone. I love to watch my boyfriend do on my phone what he would NEVER-EVER-EVER do in real life. It always makes me laugh and that alone makes it a worthwhile, but embarrassing, app for me.

Q: If you could design the perfect app, what would it be/do?

A: It would find my keys and sunglasses for me.

Q: What advice would you give to people who haven’t adopted apps as part of their lifestyle?

A: I wouldn’t overload yourself with apps. I am a big believer in having only as many apps as you actually use. So many websites that I go to ask me if I want to download their app and the answer is usually no. Yes, I go to CNN every now and then, but not enough to not just type the words into my browser and search for it. I guess my philosophy in apps is minimalist, more is not better. I don’t want to spend five minutes searching on my phone for the app I want. If I download an app and I don’t like it or don’t use it then I delete it. I just simply don’t want clutter on my phone.

About Pam

Pamela Poole put on her red cowboy boots and moved from San Diego to Paris in 2006. She's a translator and tech blogger who believes the Internet is the fountain of youth.

24. February 2013 by Pam
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