The Angst of Offline: Navigation

Of all the anxiety-producing categories, this is the one I identify with most. I have practically transferred my brain into my cell phone: it has archived all the names, places, dates, numbers, reminders, and notations – everything I can’t be troubled to remember. The first thing I do every morning is to check my calendar app to see what’s waiting for me. Without my cell phone, I would truly be lost. The amount of time and energy it would take to restore all that data is immense. The only time I’m ever really tempted to kiss a stranger is when the clerk at the phone store transfers my old SIM card into my new phone.

Cell phones permit me to not remember things, one of their most redeeming qualities. I worry I’ll forget to do that one vitally important thing mixed in with all the other urgent things in my day. My cell phone, my surrogate brain, is more reliable than I am. I joke that my goal in life is not to have to remember anything but my cell phone. It’s said ironically, with my tongue planted firmly in check, but it’s truer than I want it to be.

Because of the amount of pictures and data that can be stored on our cell phones and accessed through our computers, we transfer ourselves over into this technology. The more importance and necessity we invest into this transfer, the more tied to it we are. And then, for some unknown reason, we can’t access ourselves. We feel empty, adrift, left on our own to navigate the day, and we just feel lost. We’re terrified we’re going to forget something important, miss something vital, or lose out on an opportunity.

In this kind of pressure-cooker world, there is no room for error. The technology is there to perfectly manage our lives, form the time we wake up with our cell phone’s alarm to the time we use an app to shut the lights out and dock the phone for some soothing night music, and everything in between. Each minute of every hour is regulated and controlled so we get where we’re supposed to go and don’t make any mistakes, like missing a meeting or a school play (unless we have another meeting and then, that’s work, and it’s just for this one night). Being disconnected means relying solely on yourself to navigate your day, and you know how that’s gone in the past. Better not to chance it – so you have to be online. If you’re not, there’s no telling whom you’ll let down. The only thing you’re sure of is the first one to fall is going to be you.

The above is excerpted from #Hooked: The Pitfalls of Media, Technology and Social Networking by Dr. Gregory Jantz.

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About Dr. Gregory Jantz

Dr. Gregory Jantz is the founder of The Center for Counseling and Health Resources, Inc., in Seattle, Washington. He is also the author of more than 20 self-help books - on topics ranging from eating disorders to depression - most recently a book on raising teenagers: "The Stranger In Your House." Married for 25 years to his wife, LaFon, Dr. Jantz is the proud father of two sons, Gregg and Benjamin.