There are four ways people experience disconnect anxiety:
1) Safety: People can feel anxiety where a cell phone is perceived as a “lifeline” or a “safety net.”
2) Work: People can feel anxious when out of “the flow” (both the flow of work and general information), which must be monitored in order to stay current, valued, and competitive.
3) Social: People can feel anxious, fearful of missing out on social events or missing access to insider tidbits of information that constitute the new “social currency.”
4) Navigation: People can feel anxious being without the device that tells you where you should be and what you should be doing and that holds all your personal data.
As we connect ourselves with more technological tethers, we increasingly anchor them to our sense of safety, self-worth, social connection, and security. It used to be the word disconnect had two common meanings: you were disconnected from a phone call, or you disconnected from reality. Who would have thought those two definitions would merge? Now, being disconnected form your phone is being disconnected from reality – at least, we’ve allowed it to feel that way.
Here are a few of the words and phrases used to describe what being disconnected feels like: feeling lost, half a voice, disoriented, panic, tense, empty, inadequate, dazed, getting behind info flow, loss of freedom. One of those terms stands out to me: disoriented.
Why would being disconnected from a physical device make you feel disoriented? Disorientation is caused when you lose your bearings, when you are displaced form your normal position or relationship. Thus, if your sense of self is tethered to one of these devices, disconnecting will be disorienting. If your normal position in daily life is to rely on these devices for safety, work, social, and navigation purposes, even the thought of being without is going to produce anxiety. If you have placed a priority on the relationship you have with technology, being without that primary relationship, even for a little while, will make you feel deprived.
Disorientation can also mean losing your sense of time, place, or identity. It’s almost as if we’ve invested a significant portion of ourselves inside these devices. When we’re separated from our gadgets, we become disoriented and lose the sense of where and who we are. It is no wonder, then, we become anxious, apprehensive, and insecure when forced to disconnect.
The above is excerpted from #Hooked: The Pitfalls of Media, Technology and Social Networking by Dr. Gregory Jantz.