Yesterday morning something unusual happened. I left my phone at home.
We were walking from the car in to the church building, and I reached into my purse to pull out my phone to put it on silent. . . and nothing. It just wasn’t there. One of the kids offered to go check the car, but I knew exactly where I’d left it – I had been working on my Bible study homework before we left, and was using the Bible app and just didn’t pick up the phone when I was done.
Confession: I felt slightly anxious the rest of the morning. Even though my kids were right there with me in the building and church only lasts an hour plus a little, the sense that I was missing something was overwhelming.
I dropped the kids at their dad’s house and ran a couple of errands before returning home. Even though I knew the phone wasn’t with me, I still checked my purse to pull it out while I was waiting for the gas pump to do its work. And even though I knew it wasn’t there, I still had this little sense of panic.
I knew, logically, that the feeling was irrational. And I don’t think I was really dealing with fear of missing a notification of anything, whether it was trivial or important. The root of my anxiety was that I momentarily had nothing to distract me from my own thoughts. (Also, it was more than a little scary that it was such a short period of time, and it still affected me so much.)
We’ve become so used to entertaining ourselves at all times that we’ve lost the ability to engage with what’s happening around us. And by “we” I mean “me” – for just a couple of minutes while I was standing at a gas pump, I was really at a loss for how to spend my time. I think I stood with my arms crossed and stared at the numbers scrolling slowly on the pump. I couldn’t really tell you who else was at the gas station yesterday, although I know it was busy.
When did I stop finding joy in being lost in my own thoughts? When did I decide to trade my imagination to a screen that dictates my experience? Just when did I become afraid to spend time with myself?
I’m not making any crazy vow to get rid of the smartphone or swear off social media (although, really, there are days. . .) But even just for the few minutes that I’ve been sitting and writing my phone has chirped with 3 different types of alerts, and I’ve fought the urge to check those notifications, knowing that when I activate the screen I will be pulled in to the lure of the scroll and away from the way I intended to spend my evening.
I don’t have any answers to this, but it’s what’s on my mind this evening. Has anyone else ever experienced this anxiety over forgetting the digital appendage? What are some ways you’ve implemented to limit the loss of time?