Friday, January 2, 2015

The Psychological Impact Of Cellphone

A few weeks ago,  I woke up to a dead cellphone. So, I did what most people would do – panicked! After taking the battery out, checking connections, doing a primal dance, praying, etc., the device finally woke up, but a few weeks later, the battery stopped holding a charge and I realized something was wrong.

I could almost see it dying.  

As the battery drained, I felt physically ill, almost as if I was watching someone I cherished die. The good thing was that while it was going, I had time to do some essential back-ups of photographs and documents. Still, when it hit 1% power, with only seconds to “live,” I was sad. 

A dead cellphone is a sad thing. 

I got ready to go to the AT&T device center where I'd been assured that the device would either be replaced or repaired. But now another wave of panic crept in. 

HOW would I drive 45 minutes without a phone? And why was that so daunting?! 

Back before these mini-computers even existed, I traveled as part of my job. I'd start off on a trip a state or two away, driving for four or five hours, with nothing more than some water and maybe a sandwich on the passenger seat. I always had my AA A card, some money, and made sure the car was in good working order. And I relished that time, seeing new sights, meeting new people, cranking up the radio, and enjoying being out on the road with no one knowing exactly where I was and the office not being able to reach me. Sure, I'd check in, but when was up to me. What had happened?

 When did I lose that sense of adventure? 

I know: when I got used to having a safety net. Once I had one, my confidence in my ability to get out of difficult situations waned. Much like those of us who let the GPSes think for us, we forget how to navigate life without backup or thought. We hover and let others hover around us. We become so used to being connected, that in the absence of The Grid, we're fearful children who don't know how to cope. 

Our electronic safety nets - cellphones

I'm not saying that cellphones are bad. As I drove to the device center, I tucked an old phone which had only the ability to call 911 in my pocket and a book under my arm. Years ago, that would have been enough. When I arrived at my destination, I immediately reached for the phone, intent on playing games or calling home, and felt a pang when I couldn't. After a moment, I dove into my book and felt a peace I hadn't experienced for quite a while. My replacement device was in my hands 30 minutes later; I called home and quickly tucked the newbie deep in my purse.

Do people need to reach me ALL the time? 

Sure, if the kids are in school; I don't want to miss a call from the school nurse. Do I need to be able to reach them? Only when they're not in school. Otherwise, EVERYTHING else can wait.

My cellphone dying reminded me of the peace inherent in being off the grid for a bit. It reinforced my commitment to avoiding full dependence on these devices. You will never find all my videos, pictures, documents, or even my calendar on my phone JUST IN CASE it dies. 

Is it a crutch, a necessity?

Probably. But it's one, I'm confident I COULD live without.

If you're wondering whether you're addicted to your cellphone, read this fascinating article from Psychology Today. And try to read it while you're OFF your phone.

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