Addiction Calling - 405 Magazine

Addiction Calling

One writer’s humorous metric for deciding whether you’re too attached to your smartphone.


I’ve just come across the 30-Day Phone Breakup Challenge, an ambitious exercise designed to help the phone-addicted rein in their unbridled devotion to their electronic appendage, the black hole of omnipotent black holes.

I’m evaluating my level of phone addiction to determine whether or not to take the challenge, which culminates in a 24-hour period of abstinence.

The very thought of it gives me a little separation anxiety, something I experienced the day I left my phone behind on my way to a doctor’s appointment. I didn’t realize I’d left it until I emptied my purse in the waiting room. Panic set in, followed quickly by dread. Fidgeting like a spider monkey in a botched medical experiment, I scoffed silently to the universe. What am I supposed to do now? Read that 10-month-old Highlights magazine? And then what?

My bad luck was only starting; the doctor was running a solid hour behind schedule. Ordinarily, I might shrug it off as a mild inconvenience and entertain myself with a Bejeweled marathon on my phone. Without my phone, however, time stood still. If my hair had been on fire, no one else in the waiting room would have noticed; they were too enthralled by their phones.

After finishing my third back issue of Highlights, I became increasingly indignant about the doctor’s delay. I was bored out of my skull. I can’t believe he’s making me watch daytime TV out here! That’s it – I’m calling that front desk and giving them a piece of my mind. (reaches for phone) … Dammit!

Despite the predictable “oh my god, where’s my phone” adrenalin surge I get when I don’t instantly feel it in my purse (the other black hole), I still consider myself to be a fairly mild sufferer of phone-itis. Do I really need a detox program?

Sure, if the house were on fire, it’s the one material thing I’d save on my way out (gotta call 911, don’tcha know). If my phone went up in flames, I’d be losing my GPS, my remote office, my camera, my flashlight, my photo album, my bank, my alarm clock and my weather report. I think I’m a casual user in comparison to the rest of humanity, but how do you really measure that?

If there were a sliding scale of phone addiction, it would probably go like this:

If …

… you are a member of a lost tribe of humans, recently discovered in a Honduran jungle with no electricity or cell coverage, score 0 points.

… you are an infant less than six months of age, score 1 point – for now.     (Increase by two points for each year of life hereafter.)

… you are my mom, whose purse rings with abandon, and who forgets she even owns a phone, score 2 points.

… you own a burner phone (or a Jitterbug) like my mom’s and you can still hear it ringing, score 3 points.

If …

… you have a cell phone that you carry only for emergencies, score 4 points.

… you have a cell phone that you carry and use daily, score 5 points.

… you have a cell phone instead of a land line, score 6 points.

If …  
… you use your cell phone to rehash every detail of your sordid work conflict or personal breakup at full volume in public, score 7 points (and know that I find your drama extremely entertaining, in a “Honey Boo Boo” / can’t help watching kind of way).

… your phone is always in your hand, even in the bathroom, or you sleep with your phone next to your head, score 8 points (alert: you may need more therapy than just a phone detox).

… you have more eye contact with your phone in a week than you’ve had with your children during the last three years, score 9 points (then go hire a wolf to raise your kids).

If …

… you were born after 1990, score 10 points. You can’t help it.

… you occupy space in a room with fellow human beings who are communicating through the spoken word, yet you continue to text god-knows-who as if you’re alone in the bathroom, score 10 points.

… you must text and drive, score 1 million points and take the first exit – to a remote Honduran jungle.