Amy Roberts: Is it time for rehab?
October 20, 2015
A few months ago I read an article about patients entering rehab for technology addiction. Apparently people can become hooked on smart phones, laptops, tablets, and video games. The article also noted how these technologies contribute to auto accidents, obesity and "tech neck," an injury that occurs from looking at your screen too often. The article was bookended with several ads for a seven-day smartphone detox program. Flushing out technology toxins is a profitable business, it seems.
I finished the article and shook my head judgmentally at those people entering rehab for phone addiction. "What a pathetic lot," I remember thinking. But today, I’m embarrassed to say, I might indeed be one of them.
Last week I lost my phone for about 45 minutes. It felt like a vital limb was missing. How would I know where I was supposed to be without my calendar app? How was I going to text my friend who was helping me look for it? How would I see in the dark or take another photo or solve a math problem ever again? "If I get tossed in jail, I can literally only call 911 or the operator," I told my friend. "I don’t know anyone’s number without my phone."
My reaction was completely irrational: panic, hysteria, desperation. Emotions normally reserved for a missing child, not a misplaced cell phone.
It actually did remind me a bit of the time I got lost as a child. My parents took us to Disneyland when I was five, and gave us a very stern talking-to before we entered the gates. "If you get lost, find someone who works here and tell them your name," they instructed.
My parents weren’t even through the turnstile before I’d wandered off in search of Mickey Mouse ears. Not more than a few minutes had passed when I realized I was lost. So I did what they’d told me to and found Donald Duck, because I knew he worked there. I waited in line as kids who weren’t lost got their pictures taken, then I told him I couldn’t find my parents. He took me to Cinderella, who helped me track them down.
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When my mom saw me, she was a wreck. She’d obviously been crying, panicked, assuming the worst. She was at once relieved and furious at me for wandering off. We thanked Donald and Cinderella and managed to continue our vacation without further incident.
I also eventually found my phone without incident (it was in the refrigerator with the car keys), but it definitely got me thinking about my dependence on that little gadget, which would be somewhat more acceptable if I was an important person. Like an on-call trauma surgeon. Or the president. But the reality is, the only call I missed in the brief time my phone was lost was from a telemarketer. And the only emails that came in during that window were coupons from Target.
My obsession with my iPhone might be less concerning if I didn’t have a dog that’s been known to lift his leg on the neighbor’s baby when I was walking him and texting at the same time.
I need an intervention. But only if it’s done reality TV style. My family and friends in the living room, dabbing their eyes. I walk in, surprised to see them all and ask, "What’s going on?" There are camera crews everywhere. Two therapists try to snag my phone, insisting cold turkey is the way to go. I figure it all out and run out of the house with everyone chasing me into the street as I scream, "Go to hell! My phone is the only one who really loves me!"
Or perhaps I should just sign up for one of those detox programs I noticed in that magazine. Isn’t admitting you have a problem the first step to overcoming it?
Amy Roberts is a longtime Park City resident, freelance writer and the proud owner of two ill-behaved rescue dogs, Boston and Stanley.
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