Smart Phone Separation Anxiety

There was a time when I could leave the house without my cell phone. When I realized I had forgotten it, usually in the car, I’d simply shrug it off and keep on driving past the Rubicon. Any calls could be made later, and whether at work or at school, I knew where the clocks were. Having to wait to play Snake again was my biggest concern, but I could usually tough it out.

Those days no longer exist.

This morning, sitting at the light to the freeway onramp I reached into an empty cup holder. My phone was gone. Not in my pockets or in the center console. I hoped it was still on my coffee table, but I became obsessed with the fear that it may be lost forever. I had to go back. I was compelled to know: Do I still have access to all of my passwords? I turned around.

It was on the coffee table and I was fifteen minutes late to my dentist appointment.

They call it Nomophobia. It’s the fear of being separated from your mobile device. I’m pretty sure I have that. In my mind, at that moment, staring up at a no u-turn sign, I saw no choice but to turn back. Sure, the gap between appointment time and arrival time on the sign-in sheet looked bad, but it was worth it. Just knowing my phone was tucked safely in my pocket, and that I had instant access to the pulse of the world was enough. I could sit back and relax, avoid eyes with everyone else in the waiting room and read a People Magazine from May of 2010.

But what if I didn’t turn back? What if I went straight to the dentist and was on time? Would the car ride have been tolerable? I’m still stuck on disk five of Wuthering Heights. Would my dysphoria cause me to be blunt to the dentist?  “No, doctor. I don’t floss regularly. Hardly ever, in fact.” And would he reply with, “From the looks of your gums…no d’uh.” And would that hurt my feelings?

Maybe I would have been better off. The ride back might have been safer. I would have waited until I got home before connecting with my dentist on LinkedIn, and I wouldn’t be checking my bank account at 75 mph.

I go back to the dentist in a month. I have three cavities. They call it tooth decay when you’re an adult. And if I forget my phone this time…I’ll be fifteen minutes late.