Staying Plugged In: Why Turning My Cell Phone Off Is So Hard

By Genevieve Shifke | December 28, 2012

I just want to turn off my cell phone. I want to hold down that thin button, wait for what seems like 5 days for the screen to fade, and then run my finger across the “slide to power off” bar at the top.

I just can’t, though. I know I have a problem, and I want to stop. But I also don’t—what if I’m needed?

Even if no one is contacting me, it still sits there. It’s the “what if” that gets me. What if someone needs to get ahold of me at the exact moment I decided I was done with my phone for the day? What if my boss or my friend or my mom calls and desperately has to tell me a problem only I can fix? What if someone sends me a really cute and funny picture of her cat and I need to respond with “Hahaha that’s adorable” (“hahaha” shows I’m really laughing or at least I am in my head; LOL is too flippant and unoriginal, we all know you’re not actually laughing out loud) or else she’ll think I’m ignoring her?

If I don’t respond, people will stop trying to talk to me, and I don’t want that. I don’t want people to go onto the next person in their contact list—I want to save the day! I want to be important!

I’m not as bad as some. I turn my phone on silent when I go to bed instead of keeping it next to my pillow on ring, secretly (or not-so-secretly) hoping that someone needs to talk to me in the middle of the night and wakes me up (hey, that would mean I’m important and popular, right?). No. I like sleeping. I love sleeping. If something happens at 4AM and I need to know about it, I’m sorry, but I will find out hours later when I wake up.

That being said, there is hardly a moment during waking hours when I do not have that device in my hand, pocket, or whatever bag I have on me. Sometimes I make an effort to give myself some time away from it. I leave it in another room and do yoga, put it on silent and leave it somewhere while I cook or watch a movie. But hardly ever am I away from it for more than a few hours.

The way I see it: in this day in age, it is not absolutely necessary, but it is highly expected for people to be constantly within reach. Instant gratification is everything these days, and nothing less can be expected when it comes to communication. Step away from your device for too long and you might become obsolete in this fast-paced and interconnected world.

One comment on “Staying Plugged In: Why Turning My Cell Phone Off Is So Hard”

  1. Herb says:

    It’s interesting at how much anxiety is provoked when we are no longer “connected” to the virtual or digital world. Our predecessors sent a letter across the Atlantic ocean, which took months to reach the target destination, and they simply waited. Based off the uncertainty of getting a letter delivered halfway across the world, you would think those people would be plagued by anxiety and paranoid thoughts due to the uncertainty, but they weren’t. In our times, we can re-send an email or text, yet we are paranoid, and scared, and always anxious.

    Most of modern society’s dependence on tech has grown so much that it hurts when they don’t have access to it!! I guess this should be some solid evidence suggesting that our times, with all this technological advancements has very little correlation to our happiness and mental comfort.

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