Checking My Phone, or How I Gave Myself ADD and OCD

First, I’d like to thank everyone for all the comments about my Sandy posts. It meant a lot to me that so many people took the time to read them and give me such positive feedback.

But now…on to other stories!

If you ever see me out in the field, or anywhere really, chances are, you’ve noticed that I look down at my phone.

A lot.

This is because I’m constantly getting emails. I get over a thousand every single day. It’s pretty nuts.

Now, most of the emails don’t pertain to me. But many of them do. So I feel the compulsion to check them. Constantly.

Even when I’m not working, like today, I go through and see if any of them are important or interesting. I can’t help myself.

Before I started this job, I was never like this. I was always super focused on the task at hand. I looked at my phone at the end of the day, or maybe between classes. Even when I got a smartphone during my senior year of college, I only took it out of my bag if I heard it ringing.

But now? Not having my phone attached to my hand gives me anxiety. Recently, I took a couple vacation days. During this time, I went to get my hair straightened. The process takes about 3 hours, which meant 3 hours away from my phone. I could feel myself missing important texts and emails, and as soon as my hair was finished I was digging around in my bag, making sure I hadn’t missed anything important.

It hit me after that how ridiculous my phone addiction is. I mean, I was on vacation. I had no responsibility to check my emails. If anyone from work texted or called me, they would just have to wait.

But I can’t help it. I usually stop in the middle of whatever I’m doing every few minutes to look at my phone and make sure no emails or texts have come in. The fact that I’ve written this much without stopping to grab my phone is a feat in itself, and I’m currently itching to click the home button as I write this.

This whole thing makes it hard to focus on anything. I like to tell people I have a homemade case of ADD and OCD. Knowing that at any time, an important message could be lurking means that I can’t really focus on what I’m doing.

Other people have begun to notice this about me as well. In my family, we used to have a firm “no electronics at the dinner table” rule. Now it’s become more of a “put your phone on silent so we don’t have to hear that email noise every five seconds” rule. Whenever I go to a movie, I like to take bets about how many emails I’ve gotten during the time my phone was off. My friends have gotten fairly good at guessing the number, which is usually around 150 depending on the length of the movie. Depending on breaking news, it could be an even bigger amount. For example, I flew to Las Vegas the day Ed Koch died, and when I got off I had around 700 emails waiting for me just about him.

Some who don’t know me as well are disturbed by the amount of times my phone goes off. A friend recently told me seeing all the emails on my phone gave her anxiety. One time I was out with a guy and he got jealous because he thought I was getting texts from another boy. I explained about the emails, but he didn’t seem to buy it.

The moral of the story is, if you’re with me and I’m looking at my phone, I’m not being purposefully rude. I have an addiction–one there’s no rehab for. But at the end of the day, at least I know that I’m more informed about what’s going on in the city for having read all the thousands of emails.