I am addicted to phone notifications. I crave those sounds and lights like drags from a cigarette, or worse. My Facebook Messenger notifies with a service bell, then beckons with a slow green blink. The text alert consists of two notes, then slow white flashes. For emails, the flashes are faster.
These rings and blinks and notes and flashes are my validation drugs. Like drugs, these shout outs from cyberspace momentarily satisfy my cravings for approval and a sense of well-being. I estimate my value as a person based on phone alerts. A lot of bells and blinks means that I am engaging and in demand. No notifications means I am off my game. When my phone goes cold for too long, half a day or more, I get physical withdrawal symptoms. I frown. My chest tightens. I get anxious and start looking over to the phone every 15-20 seconds.
If there is a silver lining to the dark cloud of addiction, it is the chance to kick a habit and grow stronger in the process. For me, a silent phone is an opportunity to connect elsewhere – and mainly with me. It is quiet time to reflect on feelings, on what I need in this physical world, not the world of cyberspace. It is a time to count blessings and be grateful for them. It is a time to be more focused on creative work, on production, on discovering the resources inside me and drawing them out into music or writing or friendship. All of this good work during phone down time builds self-esteem and self-satisfaction.
Funny thing about the universe – once we truly let go of something, that something tends to come around to us in a fresh, positive way. So on top of all the benefits that come from getting a handle on phone addiction, the phone itself may return to deliver fresh, happy news!