Connectivity: Is it Really My Addiction?
By: Magdalena Petrova
I have never considered myself as being addicted to anything, except for maybe chocolate babka, yet here I was wasting a perfectly beautiful President’s Day afternoon searching for a device that over the past few years had become like an extension of my hand. As I was crawling on my dorm room floor desperately searching for any sign of my electronic appendage, I cursed myself for convincing my roommate to hide my smartphone from me. It had seemed like such a good idea last night, but now I realized that the notion had been crazy. What if I was missing a last minute assignment that one of my professors had posted online? What if there was an emergency and someone was trying to reach me? What if an enormous asteroid was on a collision course with the earth and I didn’t even know about it (this last one seems crazy but it really did cross my mind)? I heard the familiar dinging sound of a text message and immediately whipped my head around. “It’s mine,” my roommate said with an amused smile. “Of course it is,” I murmured under my breath.
Relinquishing technology for a day hadn’t seemed like such a daunting task at first. In fact, the morning had started off pretty well. Foregoing my morning ritual of checking Facebook and my email, I slipped into my tennis shoes for an early run along the East Side River. I instinctively grabbed for my keys and headphones before realizing that the latter would be useless without a device with which to use them. I had barely exited my building before I was met with the sight of pedestrians thumbing away on their iPhones and mp3 players. The scene reminded me of a CNN clip I had seen a few years back about how London was installing padding on lamp posts because too many pedestrians were getting hurt while texting and walking. Initially I thought the idea was absurd, but as a watched a teenage girl collide into a large businessman in front of her, I reconsidered.
My run was too quite. Without the constant booming of the base to help me keep my rhythm, I felt out of breath and lacked motivation. I also felt vulnerable. My usual running route spans from 23rd street to just a little bit after the Williamsburg Bridge, but I didn’t dare go that far. Without the security blanket of my phone, the area around the bridge seemed dangerous and threatening. The shadows cast by the bridge looked too dark, the sparse greenery looked too bare, and the people looked suspicious. Frightened, I turned around and jogged home.
Back at my dorm, I turned my attention to homework. I quickly came to the realization that I no longer owned a paper dictionary, a fact which made deciphering Michel Foucault’s History of Sexuality a bit tricky. Despite this setback, the rest of the day progressed smoothly. In fact, I got a lot done. By 5 p.m. I had finished most of my work and with nothing left to occupy my time I began to feel the first pangs of boredom and worry. I must be missing something, I kept thinking. Although I was to get my phone back at 9 p.m., I could not wait any longer . Before I knew it, I was crawling on the floor looking for the very thing I had begged my roommate to hide the night before. Little did I know that along with my phone I would also be surrendering something else: my peace of mind.
After several minutes of rummaging through clothing under my bed, I found it. As I ran my finger across the cool screen, I imagined a druggie getting their daily fix. We are not so different, I thought.