Feeling tense? Trying putting away your phone

Firieba Sarwarzadah

Let’s face it. We’ve all felt that thrill of anticipation when we hear that familiar ring letting us know we received a notification on our cellphones. Whether it’s a like, comment, follow, request, or message it seems as though a majority of us feel a sense of importance and comfort from this interaction with the outside world. But when did the lines between outside and virtual blur? Is there any difference between the two?

A recent radio report by Nora Young, featured on Spark, discusses the obsession people have with being bombarded with notifications, and keeping up-to-date with everything, always. On one side, the constant desire for news can be a good thing; stories and events are shared almost instantly and worldwide. We can also get in touch much easier and faster than ever before.

However, constant connectivity has negative effects. According to Young, studies have shown certain anxieties can stem from the consistent need to be involved in the virtual world. Studies have also shown the average young person from age 18-28 checks their mobile device every 15 minutes. Dr. Larry Rosen, who was also featured on Spark, said the “barrage of notifications can have adverse effects on our mental and physical health.”

It is a cycle that starts from the time of receiving a notification to potentially responding. There is a sense of anticipation we get from checking our devices for the latest and the greatest. With this comes disappointment when we do not receive a text or response. Withdrawal anxiety and the consistent barricade of what is really going on is an issue many people can relate to.

The story resonates with Nada Halawa, a first year public relations student at Mount Saint Vincent University. “I understand where the aspect of anxiety can come from; I feel that if I don’t have my phone on me, even for a little bit, I’m missing out on the world around me,” she said.

We’ve become immersed in the digital world because with any answer at our disposal, wireless devices have become such a meaningful resource. Now is the time for reflection and change. Are you controlling your phone or is your phone controlling you?

Inevitably, social habits are evolving and changing as a result of technological advances. For many, our social world has become the virtual world. Let’s take a break from screens and enjoy what’s around us. We have become too immersed and clouded by technology creating tension and anxiety. It’s time to re-evaluate our priorities and becoming comfortable in silence. Next time you find yourself reaching for your phone, try to think: “is it really important to see the latest on my news feed, and would I miss anything if I didn’t check?”

Chances are, you would only miss what is happening in front of you.