Op-Ed: My Complicated Relationship with My Cell Phone

By Kate McBride | | Contributing Writer

My relationship with my cellphone is a double-edged sword. When I am totally connected and fully accessible online, it seems as though I am switched off and inaccessible to those in my physical presence: In order to be fully present to those I am spatially near, I must disconnect from those I wish to connect with digitally. It is a juggling act that most in our generation attempt each and every day. Quite frankly, I grapple with this on a daily basis. 

One Saturday this semester, I attempted to take a break from my phone for the entirety of the day. I was desperate for some time to sit with my thoughts and unplug from the external entities that drive my stresses and anxieties to levels that are — to put it lightly — not ideal. Scrolling mindlessly through social media, attempting to give sound advice via text message (something far easier said than done), keeping in contact with old friends and family, reading the news, watching TikToks…I wanted NONE of it. For one day. 

Now, this is usually a feat that most would admire. Going without your phone for an entire day is no easy act and most would likely aim to follow in this temporary cleanse. I expected to feel rejuvenated, free, and light; I expected to be productive, to get ahead on my readings, to bond with my in-person friends on a deeper level. 

Instead, an overwhelming sense of FOMO dominated my demeanor. 

Rather than feeling refreshed and free, I felt immense anxiety. I felt as though I was going to miss crucial information, that a friend desperate for my help would be ignored, that I would have no knowledge of some sort of breaking news…I felt deep down that I was missing out. I simply could not accept the fact that I would be out of the loop for a single day: I could not focus on a single task without feeling an overwhelming urge to check that no one was attempting to contact me. 

This is a problem, a major problem. And I’m likely not the only one facing it. 

I can lead a perfectly satisfying, productive day without needing to check a cell phone every few minutes. I can cherish precious moments that happen before my eyes without needing to capture every possible angle for an Instagram post. I can entertain myself through means other than aimlessly scrolling through one form of social media after another.

And you can too.

We waste so much time on our phones, and it’s a bit jarring to sit back and think about just how much time I would get back if I hadn’t downloaded TikTok to my phone. While I do appreciate the fact that it allows me to unwind after a long day and have a laugh, I cannot help but question whether or not the endless entertainment is worth the loss in personal connections and productivity. 

My relationship with my cell phone is complex. It is my safeguard and my time-waster. It is my means of long-distance communication and fast entertainment as much as it is my means of unnecessary procrastination and stress. It is a double-edged sword — one that I am still learning to grapple with. 

Sophomore Kate McBride is a Contributing Writer.  Her email is kmcbride@fandm.edu

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