I forgot my cell phone charger when I was out on the road a few weeks ago, and I was struck by how much the idea of being without my phone bothered me. The phone has pretty much become an appendage, something I have with me at all times, especially when I’m traveling. I have an iPhone, and I love it. It’s a never ending pipeline of information, the ability to know things (and I like to know things). I joke that if I could have a superpower, it would be omniscience and my iPhone gets me pretty close – when I don’t know something, the iPhone usually does. It’s magical.
But it’s possible that, for me (and evidently for many other people), my phone has become too important. According to a recent survey in the UK by SecurEnvoy, two-thirds of that population suffers from nomophobia, or no mobile-phone phobia. Seriously. They’re calling it an addiction. And – more good news – women tend to be affected more than men.
In my case, I wonder what being so attached to my phone communicates to my 6-year-old son. I want him to feel listened to, that I’m present and available to him when we’re together (as much as I can being a working single mom). I wonder what he’s seeing when I check my phone, when I’m interacting with the world outside our little circle. He can’t see what I’m doing, but he must sometimes conclude that it has priority over him. The phone is literally in between him and me. What’s that about?
So, this addiction thing has been on my mind, and I’ve started an experiment that I call “wireless on the weekend.” I turn off my phone or leave it at home for a good chunk of either Saturday or Sunday. I’m only a few weeks into it, but I’m telling you, it makes a difference. There is a feeling of greater substance as I go about my day, as though I’m standing more solidly on the planet. The next step is to commit to a whole day and see what that feels like. After all, the first step in dealing with any addiction is admitting you have a problem.