Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night anxious because I am growing further away from my youth and I wonder if that means I’m out of touch with a reality that I thought was mine (millennialssssssssssssszzzzzzsssss~) but actually is not.
One thing I’ve been saying a lot lately is that I hate being on my phone all the time. The reason this is particularly painful is because it has turned me into one of those people who complain like hell about everything but never actually do anything about it, because I’m still always on my phone, and consistently paralyzed by how much shit I can do on it — deposit checks, write a book, record a podcast, buy groceries, check in for a flight, listen to music, read all the news (all the fucking news), end my marriage! (I’m kidding about that last one).
It makes tuning it all out and instead just scrolling through Instagram like a braindead walrus so much more compelling. But then I get flustered, because I get too involved in a life that is not my own. Before you know it, I made a left turn when I needed to take a right and now I’m looking up at traffic signs, frantic and confused, like I’ve just been jolted out of a REM cycle.
There are at least two enormous problems here.
The first is that a cell phone can either be a prison or a fortress depending on how you use it, which is completely at the owner’s discretion. It can guide you home instead of get you lost (Google Maps is pretty reliable), and provide enough intelligent insight to keep you genuinely, intellectually satisfied and not the opposite: late, and staring into a gaping hole of nothingness.
But there’s too much choice, I think, which is the real crux of the problem for me. Too many things to do, too many things to read, too many ways to communicate and interpret a point. It can get so overwhelming that even though the reflexive response should be to shut it down, instead you go to the app you’re most comfortable with and waste time as you fall deeper into the spiral of your own generational doubt. Does anyone else know what I’m talking about? I hate being on my phone all the time! It makes me feel like I’m not living in the real world, and that makes me feel like I’m becoming my mother.
Sometimes, when I’m texting, I get so mad at my thumbs for hitting too many keys at once that I genuinely think about what kind of exercise could make them narrower. Recently, my fingertips have started to feel numb because I’m scrolling so often. Numb! That can’t be good. For me, the phone promotes habitually bad behavior, which, if I had to guess, stops mental expansion. I don’t know if that’s true scientifically, but I know that when I am able to pull myself out of the screen vortex, I feel like I’ve just taken a shot of tequila. Alive and ready to dance. So what am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to do anything? I’m scared to stop using it, even though I want to (recently, I’ve started to shut it off on Saturdays and it’s like taking a vacation every week) because what if that means I’m entering that phase of early onset middle-age-hood where I still look like a youth, but feel like a grandpa? Will we still be connected? Will I seem severely out of touch? Is this the beginning of a harsh phase of life wherein I am no longer tuned into the frequencies of the zeitgeist, just standing on the outer corners asking whoever will answer if it’s still blurry in there?
One time, I heard a woman say that women in their 40s are invisible. It broke my heart. Divorcing from my phone makes me feel similarly. Does that sound crazy? SOS.
Photo by Christian Vierig via Getty Images.