Hi, My Name Is Dakster and I Have Nomophobia

I told you rebels...NO!! / Image: Savanna Kiefer
Nooooooo!! / Image: Savanna Kiefer

As with most technology, when smart phones first came out they were supposed to make our lives easier and less stressful. After having three different types of phones, I think that it’s actually the opposite. With every phone upgrade I’ve had, my life seems to get more stressful and I become more afraid of losing or being without it (aka…nomophobia).

I’m not sure when I developed my fear of losing my phone or being without it started. All I know is that now, I freak out if I walk away without it. Don’t get me started on how I feel when my husband forgets his at home and I can’t reach him all day (can you say…dog house?).

My first cell phone was a Nokia 5190 / Image: Wikipedia
My first cell phone was a Nokia 5190 / Image: Wikipedia

I received my first cell phone when I was in high school. It was a basic phone and its only feature was the ability to make and receive phone calls. I never worried about a missed e-mail, texting, or checking Facebook because those features were either not available or popular. If I forgot my phone, the only stress I was under was from my mother for nothing being able to reach me.

A few years later, I got a job where a company Blackberry was provided. I loved it. I could finally check my work e-mail anywhere and surf the internet when away from my computer. I enjoyed being able to take pictures and forward them to anyone with a few clicks. One problem…my stress levels jumped! All of a sudden I was no longer off the clock because I was constantly checking my e-mail out of fear I would miss something that was important.

This was the droid I was looking for / Image:Amazon
This was the Droid I was looking for / Image: Amazon

A year goes by and my boss upgrades me to a Droid (R2-D2 limited edition no less) and my world exploded again. Now I could play Angry Birds, get on Facebook, and download tons of other time-wasting stuff. My stress levels went up again x 5. After about six months with the Droid, I developed what is known as “Blackberry thumb.”

If you’ve never had it, allow me to draw you a picture…in extreme cases you cannot use your thumb for anything. You cannot text, type, scroll a mouse… nothing! My case was not so extreme, but any attempt to use my thumb would result in spasms. It took three days of babying by thumb for the muscle to regain its composure and allow me to use it again. It wasn’t so much painful as it was annoying.

Now to present day, I have my first iPhone (4s). I love it more than my previous phones. I know the Windows/Android lovers will disagree with me, but what can I say, I’m an Apple person. Now I’ve been introduced into the world of notifications. At the time, my Android wouldn’t tell me every time my Facebook friends made a post or when a new level was available in Angry Birds. These days, I find myself constantly checking my phone every five minutes looking for things I might have missed since I last checked my phone. My stress levels are now at an all-time high!

iPhone 4s / Image: Amazon
My first iPhone, the 4s model / Image: Amazon

I started to notice a disturbing trend in my behavior as well…instead of paying attention to my loved ones, I was paying attention to my phone. The first wake-up call I received to how bad I’ve gotten, was when I went to the playground with my son. My phone was in my back pocket and as I reached for it, I saw another woman, playing on her phone, while following her child around. Her child was having the time of their life, and she was missing it because she was texting. Precious moments in childhood were flying by and she was missing them.

I decided that I wasn’t going to be that parent. Instead of continuing to reach for my phone, I got up and went to play with my son. He had a blast playing with mommy and I had more fun with him than reading Facebook updates. Now, every time I want to reach for my phone while with my family, I think twice before checking for online updates. I don’t want my son growing up believing that mommy cares more about her virtual friends than him.

To help relieve some of the stress I feel around my phone, I’ve discovered a few new settings to help me “de-stress” my devices.

I turned off my notifications so I don’t see that red circle on my apps that have updates, I turn off my work e-mail on the weekends, and sometimes I go the extra mile and give it to my husband so I can’t look at it every ten minutes. At night, I keep it on the other side of the room so I don’t wake up and check my Facebook and e-mail (yes, I used to do that) and I put it on vibrate so I can’t hear any updates that might ding at me in the middle of the night.

Slowly but surely my methods are working and I am feeling less stressed each day. I still check my e-mail like crazy, but that’s a whole other issue I need to work on. For now, I’m happy to be getting closer to just walking away and not feeling like my phone is holding me down.

So, let’s think about this for a second. To reduce the stress levels in our lives, our doctors tell us to eat better, drink more water, exercise, take a pill, meditate, or go to yoga. Has anyone thought about changing their phone?

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Dakster Sullivan is a network administrator by day and a cosplayer by night. She loves discovering new books to read, tech to play with, and ways to express her herself. She has anxiety and depression and strives to educate others about these invisible illnesses.