THE BLOG
07/01/2014 07:50 am ET | Updated Aug 31, 2014

iPhone Dependency -- Why Am I So Afraid Of Disconnecting?

iPhone-a-phobia. Yep, I think I have finally developed a full-blown case. It seems my biggest fear about my upcoming 10-day vacation in Europe is disconnecting. After spending too many hours trying to figure out data plans for foreign travel, sim cards purchased abroad, Skype vs. FaceTime from phone to phone, and whether my phone must be in perpetual airplane mode or simply forbidden from roaming, I give up.

Yes, I know hotels have free Wi-Fi and there are Internet cafes all over the place, but can't I take a vacation from being connected every second of my life? Aside from an emergency text about my mother's or a family member's health, can't I simply let go of Facebook, email, and even my blog? Like the infamous Little Engine That Could, I keep chanting to myself, "I think I can. I think I can."

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Cartoon by Marcia Liss

I noticed the first symptoms of iPhone-a-phobia a few years ago. If I forgot my phone, I felt uncomfortable, anxious, and almost undressed. If my phone pinged, I felt compelled to check. If someone left me a voicemail, I started to feel like that red number next to the email icon was haunting me.

Part of this disconnect-disease comes from having an elderly parent and young grandkids. There is always an emergency on the horizon and I feel like I must be on call 24/7. Even if I can't do anything for my mother in Detroit or my kids and grandkids in Indianapolis and Boston, it just feels wrong not to know. And after all, wasn't it great last week when I could pick up my grandkids from their camps when my daughter's car was trapped in the garage by a broken door?

It makes me wonder how I raised three kids without an iPhone. Or how I took vacations during which the main method of communication was a 15-cent postcard (LOL) sent via snail mail. I'm sure there were crises back then as well, but unless someone died, you just found out about them later.

In 1968, my husband and I went to Europe for 8 glorious weeks. Here's how we communicated: we didn't. I think we went once to an American Express office in Rome to see if we had received a letter about my husband passing his medical boards. Goodness, we didn't even have an itinerary or names of places we could be reached. What were we thinking?

I guess it helped being young and child-free with healthy parents. But there was more to it than that. The kind of connectivity we all take for granted these days simply did not exist. And sometimes I think that was a good thing, at least on weekends and vacations.

I remember being told to limit long distance conversations to fewer than 3 minutes. Now I can blab, email, and text away for as long as I want to folks all over the USA. I can see pictures of my grandkids, and my friend's grandkids, on Facebook. I can even see my grandkids via Skype or FaceTime -- kind of like Grandparenting in a Box.

All of that is great, but can I unplug for 10 days and just have fun without having an anxiety attack? Can you? I guess I'll see soon.

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