Nomophobia — the fear of being out of mobile phone contact.
A drastic change happened in my life this past year. I ditched my trusty old flip phone from the dinosaur age — the one I never texted on and barely used to even make phone calls — for a damn smartphone.
What the hell was I thinking?
Now I’m addicted to this soul-sucking piece of plastic and it feels sad. First sign I had a problem? If a few hours went by without checking it, my hands would sweat, my heart would pound and nothing would ease the subtle yet unnerving feeling I was missing out on something, anything (ohmygodsomethingishappeningIjustknowit!) unless I checked my phone.
The problem is, once you get that fix, you want another hit over and over again just to maintain.
Before I went to bed at night? Gotta check Facebook.
First thing after I had my morning coffee? Gotta check my email. And Twitter. Instagram. WordPress.
On my lunch break? Phone.
After the boss walks back into her office? Phone.
On my cigarette break? Phone. (Yes, I smoke the phone.)
While I’m on the phone? Phone.
It’s true, I’m cheating on my phone with another phone and sometimes I use them both at the same time and I don’t even care!
Now my life is a big, fat texting, emailing, messaging, instagraming, tweeting, facebooking hot mess of insanity.
I’m caught between desperately craving this fake pseudo-social interaction bullshit of likes and comments and tweets and twits, and realizing it’s all empty and useless for the most part.
Yes, it is. Empty. Waste of precious time.
But Darla! you say, It keeps us connected! It’s social! C’mon! It brings people together! The internet isn’t all bad! Some of it’s good!
No, it is not. We are all pathetic.
Fine, I’m pathetic. Because I’ve fallen for this crap. I remember when it all started too.
One day last semester I was sitting on a bench outside of class with other students, all of them looking down at their evil little phones. I was waiting for class to start so I did the natural thing we used to do in the olden days: I waited.
After a few minutes of pleasantly sitting there doing nothing, a 21-year-old classmate of mine asked “Darla? What’s wrong?”
“Huh?” I snapped out of my daydream.
“What’s wrong? You’re like…just staring off into space….” she laughed.
Oh my fucking god.
The other night my husband and I were sitting on the living room couch in the dark and both of us were hunched over, looking down at our respective tiny glowing rectangles. After a half hour of silence, we realized the TV wasn’t even on.
The TV wasn’t on! Has the world gone mad?
Last year, we used to pride ourselves on the fact we never texted. Now we’ve actually texted each other while in the same house before. Sure it was about dinner and I was very tired and didn’t want to get up to walk over to the next room to talk with my husband, but still.
We’ve fallen hard and fast for this addiction, and guess what folks, it’s real and it is sucking the life out of all of us.
Social communication has been reduced to bite-sized morsels of superficial bullshit we gobble up and spit out over and over again like monkeys pressing a button for food. Release the treat! Give it to me again! It’s never enough! Buzz! Buzz! BUZZZZ!!!
What have we lost? Eye contact. Long, meaningful conversations. The sense of touch. The ability to connect with another soul without a stupid machine wedged inbetween every interaction.
This summer I worked at a doctor’s office. My favorite parts of the day were the little moments I truly connected with a patient who is sick or dying or just lonely. Sometimes I’d rest my hand on their shoulder or help them up or give them a pat on the back and a smile. I looked into their eyes and I asked them how they were today and I actually wanted to know the answer.
The thing that surprised me most was the response. All people — young, old, women, men — their faces would suddenly soften, like a wall was slowly crumbling. Sometimes they’d start crying or telling me stories from the past or relating their dreams and fears to me. It was like a dam busted open wide. Because I actually took the time to talk to them face to face. Imagine.
And it made me think how little we actually communicate with each other today. Genuine communication about the stuff that goes on deep down inside of all of us. How much we all desperately need to know we’re not alone floating around out there, caught in some vapid interwebular net of flavor-of-the-month popularity.
But all things in moderation, right? So I’m starting to put the stupid phone down. I actually have to tell myself not to check it. I have to resist the urge all day. I’ll admit, it reminds me of when I quit drinking coffee, it’s that much of an addiction to me.
Last week I went a few days without my phone. (I still texted my husband once though so I did cheat a little).
But I found I didn’t miss it, that hollow feeling of craving something I know is ultimately bad for the soul.
Fine, my soul, not yours. It’s just me. I’m sure you’re not addicted, right? First step is admitting you have a problem. Just resist the urge to tweet about it. Like I’m about to do with this post.
Are you addicted to your phone? How many times a day do you check it? Be honest. If you’re not addicted, let me know any tips for quitting, like say, putting the phone on a table and smashing it to smithereens with a hammer.