I can feel the weight of it resting in my pocket. It's heft comforts me when I feel it resting at my side, like a modern day gunslinger. I draw from the hip to shoot a photo or to share any original thought that has popped into my head since the last time I posted, which was only a few minutes ago. My hand automatically reaches for it when there is that empty void in space and time called silence. Often, I catch myself reaching for it when I should just keep looking with my own eyes. It is always calling to me, and I can't stop answering.
Sometimes, I just need to touch it to make sure it is still there. Once, I left it at home and realized that without it, I felt disconnected and unsafe. I had no quarters and I kept thinking. "Quarters? Where would I even use those?" I can't remember when was the last time I even saw a pay phone.
Sometimes, I forget that I put it in a different pocket and I have a small panic attack that it is lost. The anxiety built around something that is supposed to be for pleasure often beckons to me to answer its call. It was there the whole time of course, waiting for me to pick it up. To be comforted by the clicks and swipes, of so many seconds, minutes, and hours of the day spent looking at this tiny window.
Can I see it blinking out of the corner of my eye, or am I imagining it? Has someone commented or liked something I posted? Has anyone read my blog today or left a comment? What is everyone one else in the entire world up to RIGHT NOW?
I have a problem. I'm addicted to my phone, the Internet, the connection to a place that exists inside a cloud; a place of wire and megabytes. It is a place of intangible worth with generated scores of your worth and a rank of life where your words and actions recorded serve as the benchmark for how all others see you.
Stand outside any social gathering and people aren't bumming smokes anymore, they are checking Facebook and sending pictures on Instagram like their technological pusher.
Do you want to alienate the person you are with? Just pull out your phone and put it on the table. Try to sneak a game in while you are waiting for an appointment. Try to check it when they aren't looking or excuse yourself to the bathroom so you can check your email in peace. You're not paranoid. People are coming out of the bathroom wired from duckface selfies and Candy Crush high scores and everyone knows it.
I regularly get reprimanded by my wife, who catches me looking at it. My kids often tell me to get off the phone so I can play with them. I try to justify having it out by saying I am taking a picture or trying to capture a moment instead of just being in the moment. I say, "I'll put it down in a second," but I know it's a lie. In those moments, I'm deciding whether they belong to my family or me. I'm a failure and I can't stop using.
How can you be a successful dad blogger without being tied to a device? How can you limit your interactions with cyberspace when so much of it depends on the here and now? Engage, engage, engage, or you will lose likes and become irrelevant. How can I be engaged without being disengaged from what truly matters, which are my relationships with people and more importantly, my relationship with my family?
Engagement drives your success in the cloud but it can also hurt your relationships back on earth. At conventions and events where social media is important, I find comfort in seeing other bloggers looking down and not out. But, it's the disappointment in myself when I am not in those situations where the real addiction surfaces. Why am I trying to fill every crack in time with something?
I learned early on through our pre-marital classes that we all have love languages. I discovered that I highly valued words of affirmation. As a person who thrives on positive feedback as a way to feel loved, this is a dangerous combination for me, as I constantly seek validity that what I am doing is worthwhile.
This is how social media has created a simultaneous feeling of pleasure and pain for me. Accolades by peers and attention lead to a sense of euphoria, a high that is hard to maintain. I need that fix. I am a junkie.
The very nature of the Internet makes it easy to get and I know it is always available. It's right there in my pocket, waiting for me to pick up. It is still calling me. The question is, am I strong enough to not to answer it?