Keep it in your pants

The relationship we have with our cellphone is out of control


You’re the first thing I see in the morning, and the last before I close my eyes at night. You keep me company all day long, and I never get sick of you. You make me happy.

You are my iPhone.

I have a cell phone addiction, and guess what, if you were born after 1980, chances are very high you might have one too.

A grand sense of emptiness comes over me if my 4.5”x2.3” device isn’t comfortably sitting in the back pocket of my jeans, or at least within three feet of my body at all times. I check my messages, emails and social media notifications as soon as I wake up. And as soon as I get out of the shower. As soon as I get on the bus. Right before I start work. During work. Right when I get off work. Right before a movie starts. Right after a movie ends (but never, ever during a movie).

If I don’t feel like I’m connected all the time, I feel lost.

I don’t need to tell you I’m not alone, either. We’ve all gone out with at least one friend who “Just has to finish this email”, or is in an important text conversation, or “will literally die” if they miss just one tweet about the #laserpyramid.

Three quarters of the cell phone owning population in North America are addicted to their devices, according to Morningside Recovery addictions facility in of California.

And at this rate, it’s practically normal to do any of the following: take a selfie at a funeral, Snapchat when you’re working, Vine a serious accident or Facebook on the toilet.

A couple months ago Louis CK told Conan O’Brien why he doesn’t buy his kids cell phones, and it was a beautiful observation on how texting allows us to dismiss human emotion. How we lose compassion and empathy. How we lose basic social skills. How it creates an empty space that begs to be emotionally fulfilled, but never does.

We have such a great need to connect and fill a void that we’ll deny ourselves intimate moments with friends and romantic partners. We’ll deny ourselves intimate moments of self-discovery by ourselves. We’ll deny ourselves from creating real, meaningful connections with other people – for the semblance of doing the exact same thing with a computer that fits in our pocket.

And I think that’s something we need to reverse.

In my own life I’m beginning to ask myself ‘why’ I’m on my phone. Am I looking for specific information? Is there someone I specifically want to talk to?

If I can’t answer the question then there’s no reason for me to pick up my phone.

I’m also going to be mindful of keeping it in my pants around friends and family – and to take at least an hour a day where my phone is actually turned off and tucked away where I can’t see it.

These are small steps, but ones I think need to be done to work towards a better functioning communication and meaningful personal relationships.

Lauren Parsons is a University of Winnipeg theatre student. She has a love/hate relationship with social media.

Published in Volume 68, Number 17 of The Uniter (January 22, 2014)

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