Does being disconnected cause you anxiety? -


Who in their right might would have anxiety at an all-inclusive resort? People wait on you hand and foot, there are activities galore to keep you busy or you can just sit by a pool or on a sandy beach sipping cocktails and enjoying all you can eat whatever. There are kid-friendly programs run by resort staff so you can even find me time with your significant other to do any one of those above-mentioned activities.

So again, I’ll ask, who could possibly have anxiety issues while sitting in paradise? Apparently me.

And maybe you too.

My situation was a little unique in that I was there for the Social Media on the Sand conference so part of my time was dedicated to listening to speakers and participating in meaningful experiences. Yes, I had a great amount of time to soak up the sun and take in the sights but I also had this hint of anxiety a lot of the time. Apparently I was wearing my anxiety on my face because more than one person asked me what was wrong but I just couldn’t pinpoint it at the time. The reason may (or may not) surprise you.

I didn’t have a steady stream of connectivity. There. I said it.

Although I knew my kids were following rules and in a safe location, the fact that I couldn’t count on loading Find My Friends on my iPhone 6 to locate where they were or shooting off a quick text to let them know what time to meet me was unsettling.

Being connected is a pretty huge deal for a lot of people. According to a recent study by U.S. Cellular, I’m not alone. Let me put it into perspective for you based on the survey participants’ answers to the question of what they would rather give up than their smartphone:

According to a U.S. Cellular survey, 72% of those surveyed would rather give up chocolate than their smartphone. -

As much as Americans love chocolate (post-Halloween candy leftovers rock, don’t they?!), 72% said they would rather give up chocolate than their smartphone. To be fair, there are plenty of other sweets to satisfy the cravings, but there aren’t many alternatives to connectivity.

Would you rather give up TV or your smartphone? -

We’re kind of TV junkies, having been DirecTV customers since 1997 with only short break when we moved to Iowa. I can honestly say that we have more than a couple shows on the DVR, some of which are entire seasons waiting for our attention. However, our TV viewing lives are balanced by board games and the symphony and we’re able to find a ton of shows and movies on Netflix. The people surveyed by US Cellular must have balance as well because 65% said they would abandon their favorite shows in order to stay connected to their smartphone. I tend to agree with this one as well.

Do you have a coffee pot collection taking up a lot of counter space? -

What about caffeine? Would you rather give up your phone or your daily jolt of pop and coffee? 63% said they would pick their device over their caffeine fix. Interesting… I don’t get cranky when I miss my coffee, but I certainly do when I am without my smartphone. I guess we’re seeing what camp I tend to fall in.

As technology continues to improve and our lives are more connected through our devices, it only makes sense that we, as a society, become more attached. From our photos to entertainment to communications and even home automation, our smartphones make our lives easier and more enjoyable. According to the U.S. Cellular study, 65% of smartphone owners said they would never leave home without their device compared to 48% just two years ago. I can only imagine what that statistic will be in another year or two. As you could see by the above “addiction” statistics, smartphones are more important to many people than what used to be considered essentials. If you had asked me 15 years ago whether I would give up caffeine or chocolate for a phone I would have laughed at you for asking me a question that had such an obvious answer. No. Today, as with survey participants, my priorities have shifted.

The fact that we are so connected explains why I had such feelings of distress when forced to be disconnected (or intermittently connected) while out of the country. I hadn’t even thought about asking U.S. Cellular about connectivity because I didn’t realize it would bother me so much.

While I get that we need to find time to be off the grid, making the choice to do so and being forced to are two completely different situations. I’m just happy to know that when I’m stateside, I have my home network to rely on and when I’m out and about, I can count on U.S. Cellular to keep me connected.

What addiction would you give up before your phone?

17 thoughts on “The Anxiety of Being Disconnected

  1. I could give them all up – including my phone. BUT there would have to be good reason to give them up 😉 To me it’s all about the balance. We don’t actually have DVR. We have bunny ears and netflix. I have a really really old smartphone as well that’s still working just fine. I don’t drink coffee, and rarely soda – and candy is my treat.
    However, I totally get your anxiety. I would have been anxious too if I wasn’t with my kids the whole time at a retreat like that. I try not to be, but I would.

  2. I’ve started to make myself go without my phone for like, an hour a day. I’ve realized that I’m TOTALLY addicted to it, and it has started to interfere with my simple joys. I guess it’s my way to refrain from having the anxiety of being separated from it.

    You know, except for that one hour a day, when I’m totally freaking out.

  3. Being disconnected is a very strange feeling. I would definitely be feeling that in your situation with all the kids running around. I could give up a lot to keep my smart phone…just not coffee!

  4. After finding out via a mobile phone call that my mother was killed in a car crash, I have always felt I needed my phone with me 24/7. Then 9 months ago I was in a car wreck with my father which took his life. Had the EMT not been my best friends son in law and knew me and called her it would have been hours before my husband knew what happened. These wrecks cause me so much anxiety that I have to be connected with my husband all the time. Not because I dont trust him but because he is on the road 3 hours a day between college and work and I have to know hes ok or I freak out until I talk to him. I wish I could go without it. I feel tethered by it but my anxiety is worse.

  5. I would give up smoking if it meant I could not use my phone when I choose! The rising of the addiction statistics do not surprise me tn the least. I’m hoping these stats are a cross-section of the younger and older consumer. On at least three occasions a high school student has walked out if front of my car without any awareness at all!

  6. I’m not one of those people attached to their smartphones but I do know a lot of people who are. They have it no matter where they go, whether it’s going out to dinner with friends or going to the movies. They can not be without it for as little as 2 hours. They get very cranky and nervous without it so even though I’m not attached, I do understand.

  7. I’m off the grid two, three, sometimes four days a week. Not a big deal for me, or my lifestyle. Even with that, the choices they gave on chocolate, or sodas, against your phone, well, I would have chosen the phone just because it is food against communication and I am not big on chocolate or sodas. Now if they had done a choice that would have been more equal, movies or tv against the phone, the phone, for me, would go. I like my tv, movies, music, or even books for relaxation way more than I do any phone. 😀

  8. Something I’ve noticed is that when I’m off grid (which is regularly where I live) I miss google. I look at something and thing I should google that! and then the “oh yeah! Duh.” No regular bars much less any “G’s”. I’ve found that being connected to the hive-mind of Google can be vastly beneficial, and extremely detrimental! The detrimental part is memory. Why do you need to remember what animal makes what print if you can just look it up any time you want?

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