When I was a kid and the phone would ring during dinner, my mom would glare at the harvest gold wall mount and yell, “DON’T answer it!” She’d then lower her voice. “Pretend we’re not home,” she’d whisper as if the caller could hear her. According to Mom, there was an appropriate time and place to be connected to the outside world via that 10-foot tangled cord.
Dinner was not one of them.
In the 70s, when it was time to make a long distance call to Grandma, Mom would watch the clock until 7 p.m. when AT&T dropped the rates to fifty-cents a minute. “Talk fast!” Mom would admonish me in the background as the bill ticked higher with every tick of the clock. “Just write a letter!” she’d finally screech as she grabbed the phone from me and slammed it down. If the end-of-the-month budget was especially tight, Mom wasn’t opposed to ringing up Grandma at 11 p.m., when the rates went to a quarter a minute. Although at that time of night we could talk longer, as I recall the musings of a seven-year-old at that hour could not compete with Grandma’s obsession with Johnny Carson’s monologue.
Decades later, my sleek, 4.55 ounce rectangle of technology is a far cry from the harvest gold rotary dial phone with a 10-foot cord of my youth. It in no way resembles the office microwave that gouged my shoulder. Today, my mobile device rests conveniently at my fingertips .
But these days, I begin to panic when my device is out of arm’s reach. Heaven help me if I don’t have a visual on it.
I get twitchy.
I’ve discovered there’s a diagnosis for my agitated state. According to medical websites, I have nomophobia – No Mobile Phone Phobia – fear of being without my cellular device. Despite a whole host of other more serious, health-related concerns, such as iPosture, Cell Phone Elbow, and Text Neck, I still have an unhealthy attachment to this modern-day convenience.
I’ll forgo comfort in the name of connection. Otherwise, I might miss something.
Because someone might have invited me to play Candy Crush Saga, posted a new Roomba Cat video, or the Best-Ever BBQ Chicken recipe.
Even if the phone’s not in my pocket, I still feel it buzz with every imaginary Very Important Message. Although these Phantom Pocket Vibrations startle me, I reach for it anyway.
I’m even more started when it isn’t there.
But I know I need to detach from my compulsive side and put the phone down. I need to disconnect, detox, and let go of my dependency on 24/7 availability.
And I will do just that.
As soon as my Text Claw loosens up.