Am I Addicted To My Phone?

Author: Naomi Liddell

You know, if I had asked myself “Am I addicted to my phone?” on Monday of this week, the answer would have been a confident and slightly smug “No”. But after going for a walk yesterday, I’ve come to the realisation that I am way more reliant on tech than I actually thought.
Let me tell you what happened…

I had a full on day of errand running yesterday. Myself and Finn were zipping all over the Central Belt of Scotland attending baby classes and doing the mundane life admin tasks you can’t do at home in your comfies. Whilst I was on the go, I barely even thought about my phone. In fact, I’m sure the only time I looked at it was to check the time. When we returned home, the battery had died so I plugged it in to charge in the kitchen. I still had to go and visit the post office, but I figured I could pop Finn in the buggy and take the scenic route (a beautiful walk along the canalside) to post the parcels. It was an absolutely gorgeous sunshiney evening and Finn was likely to drop off to sleep so I was looking forward to the walk. 
I didn’t even think twice about not bringing my phone. I quite happily left it charging at home and set on my way, making a joke to my father-in-law in passing that I would be uncontactable (as they were looking after Ethan) and to send a search party if I didn’t come back. The walk was a 40 minute round trip. And about 3 minutes in, I started to feel a really weird feeling. I felt… Uneasy. Now it’s worth stopping here to point out that this feeling had absolutely nothing to do with a concern for our safety. We live in a super quiet village and safety whilst out alone has never, ever been an issue for me. But yet, I felt a very mild panic building in my chest. 
I’ve been journaling a lot lately which has helped me be more objective about my thoughts and feelings so I just walked and noticed the feeling and accompanying thoughts. It was then that I was able to label it. This is anxiety. What the bloody hell am I feeling anxious about?! Then it dawned on me. “What will I do?”. I had a 40-minute walk ahead of me and I was concerned about how I would occupy my mind. 
I’m not a big Facebook user, I spend limited time (mostly for work) on Instagram and because I don’t spend hours a day thumbing through these sites, I had assumed that I could not be addicted to my phone. But it turns out, as my baby sat dozing in the pram and I walked through the gorgeous countryside, all I could think about was the fact that I couldn’t listen to a podcast. I couldn’t listen to music. I couldn’t phone anyone to keep me company. And I couldn’t make a note of the ideas that were flying around in my brain. All because I didn’t have my phone. 
Eventually, as I made it to the post office and set off on my way back, the feeling of anxiety dissipated. But I couldn’t shake the frustration that every time I thought of something like “What’s the weather going to be like at the weekend?”, “What time is my dentist appointment again?”, or even just ideas for this very post, I couldn’t just whip out my phone and get my answers immediately. 
To be honest, I’m still a bit shocked and freaked out that my body reacted in such a physiological way to not having technology on hand. It was nothing to do with social media, which is often the addiction you hear referred to, it was purely a reaction to not having some kind of external brain to occupy the silence, answer my questions and keep my life in order. For 40 flippin’ minutes.
So as I mull over this and how uncomfortable it makes me, I think it would be interesting to hear from you. Have you ever had moments of feeling anxious while separated from technology? Did you just associate phone addiction with social media usage like me?

Naomi loves daytime baths, learning things and rock music.
(Oh and her kids. She loves them too)
Follow Naomi on Instagram @naomiliddell
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10 thoughts on “Am I Addicted To My Phone?

  1. Like you I don’t use facebook & my instagram attention span is limited (I found myself scrolling and not even “looking” so what is the point) but I do like to have that feeling of being “contactable” – and I too think of random questions I want answering (!) it’s the immediacy that we get used to I think. I definitely miss mine less these days though, mostly because I keep losing the bloody thing/leaving it in the car/bathroom/down the back of the sofa x

    1. You’re so right Charlotte, it’s the immediacy. Or the fact that I don’t think my brain is capable of remembering that burning question I have, to answer at a later date. Which should probably tell me it’s a question not worth answering 🙄

  2. Naomi, I am exactly the same as you. I can’t really describe it but it’s like a constant need to be reading something or listening to something or trying to make sure I know what’s coming next – my diary and reminders of ‘to-dos’ are kept on my phone so without it I always feel a bit unprepared. I also find like you that need for ‘company’ on a walk. If I take the dog out and my earphones have no charge I feel… mortified. Sometimes I find myself just picking my phone up for no real reason!? Just to… Have it. I am well and truly addicted. BUT saying that those walks where I do forget my earphones I notice that I chat to the dog more, I take in the scenery more… I actually turned the radio off in my car the other day and opened the windows when driving and I could hear the birds. It was lovely.

    1. It’s so weird isn’t it Becky?! It’s like we’re used to having a soundtrack to our lives. I love driving in silence in the car with the windows down. Or my favourite is hanging out the washing listening to the birds. But I definitely need to get better at walking without the need to be listening to something. I’m glad I’m not the only one!! 🙈

  3. This has really resonated with me. Part of dealing with my anxiety is knowing I can jot ideas and reminders or check the weather at a moment’s notice (I’m sure it’s not necessary but it’s so reassuring!)

    Knowing that I need to preserve battery or handing my phone over so my daughter can watch another episode of Peppa or Ben and Holly leaves me feeling bereft!

    I really dislike it but I’m not sure how to counteract something that feels so ingrained!

    1. I totally feel like the fact that I can purge what’s in my mind onto a placeholder in my phone helps me from feeling overwhelmed too Charlie!

      For me personally, I feel like I’m going to just practice being without my phone more often. Perhaps just bring a notepad and pen on my walks instead. Do you think that would work for you too?

  4. I’m sure phones come with inbuilt black holes. I lose so much time on mine just because everything is in it. Just by checking my emails, the weather, looking up the answer to something random that pops in my head, and then a ‘quick’ scroll on Instagram, which then leads to clicking on links for stuff I will never buy – an hour has gone!

    I’ve started leaving my phone in my bedroom when I’m at home, maybe it’s me being lazy, but it has cut down how much I look at it knowing I have to go upstairs to get it if I want to look at something trivial. I also tried wearing a watch to stop myself getting it out so often – massive fail as my watch battery had died and I keep forgetting to buy a new one 😆

    1. I’ve been meaning to get a watch too Claire! First thing this morning I set a timer on my phone for 25 mins to get some housework done. I got SO much done because I didn’t stop to check my phone (for fear of losing the timer! The irony). Just proves how much time gets lost every time we pick the things up.

  5. I think it’s got something to do with just not knowing how to be bored any more. We are all so over stimulated all the time that the moment we find ourselves in a post office queue or waiting for an appointment we get the itch to reach for our phones to give us something to do. Mindless scrolling is our iPhone generation equivalent to people watching!

  6. Phone addict, right here! I totally get it and I agree with what Kirsty said – we just don’t know how to be bored, which definitely makes me sad sometimes.
    Unlike you though, Naomi, because I’m in London there is an element of safety around having a phone on me all the time. I obviously wouldn’t put myself in a situation thinking ‘oh it’s okay I have my phone with me’ but there is an added security in being able to call anyone, or an uber if I need to.
    However, the flip side of this does mean I get very anxious if I expect to hear from someone and I don’t. If Ben’s phone runs out of battery when he’s out, I will immediately think the absolute worst, which if we weren’t so constantly contactable, I don’t think I would jump to necessarily.
    Such an interesting post and hearing other peoples views/how they are trying to combat it, thanks Naomi xx

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