Compulsions. Part I: FailedPosted: March 21, 2011
Welcome to my week long project of working on what I’d like to call compulsive phone addiction. What kind of therapist would I be if I didn’t practice what I teach?
The background: A year ago I decided to join the revolution that is smart phones. Before that I had an old, Samsung flip phone that could text. Slowly. And was able to make calls. That’s it. No apps, no Facebook, no Twitter, no WordPress, no mobile hotspot, no Gmail. I know, hard to believe. I should have kept it as a relic, soon those phone will be worth a lot of money simply for their historical value.
So one day, I decided to do it. Smart phones here I come! I mean everybody was doing it. All you saw was groups of friends all sitting together all on their phones. And I remember precisely at what point it became quite normal to ask “What phone do you have?” after saying “Hello”. And it got me thinking. What is happening inside this little device that is so important we can’t miss a second of it? Is compulsive phone checking really necessary for our survival? How can someone get so strongly attached to an object? Or is it really the object we’re attached to? What other material things become a part of who we are? Why?
To answer some of these questions I decided to conduct a week long experiment and blog about my findings.
Day one: Detox. Or a failed attempt.
Today is the day I leave my phone behind. I thought about this while getting ready for work. How will I do it? Will IT notice I’m gone? Will IT be sad or disappointed? Will IT miss me like I miss IT? I will just pretend I forgot it and silently sneak out on IT. No big deal. I just forgot it. It happens, right? But what if I need it? I mean, I am a new driver, what if I get in an accident? What if my car breaks down and I need to call for help? What if there is a major catastrophe and I can’t get home? Because you know, the day you leave your phone at home is the day everything you ever feared will actually happen! After all, IT is my lifeline. What if a client calls? What if my mom calls? Really, think about this. No email, no Facebook, no random flicker photos as your wallpaper, no blog feeds, no tweets . I don’t think I can do this.
But I have to. I’ll just…casually forget it.
So I do. I leave it behind. Lock the door. Done. I feel accomplished already. See, that was easy. While I’m driving, I reach into my purse to check my phone like I usually do (although as a new driver I’m forbidden to). I’m surprised it’s not there. This is strange. I feel like a part of me is missing. How absurd! I don’t know how I’m going to get through the day. Nothing extraordinary will happen today. I can already predict what will happen in this historic day. Most likely, I will get home and give myself permission to finally check my phone for the first time today and I will have no missed calls, no messages and no notifications so important I shouldn’t have missed them. This reassures me.
I get to work and I’m already settled for the day. I already feel a little lighter. I go in the kitchen and make myself some delicious coffee. I’m ready to conquer the day, phone free! As I approach my desk, I see it. There it is! My dear little phone, sitting quietly on my desk, it’s little notification light blinking happily with anticipation. And it looks victorious. My phone FOLLOWED me!!!
Then my co-worker says “Your girlfriend is so sweet. She brought you your phone. You forgot it at home”
And just like that my first attempt failed, my dream of a new start crushed. I’m oddly comforted. Tomorrow I’ll try again. But meanwhile, my dear phone, come to me! I missed you!