Social Media Social Good: Smart Phone Anxiety

Category: Social Media Social Good Series, Weekly Columns

A smart way to stay connected to my smart phone

Do you have Social Media Anxiety? Or Smart Phone Anxiety? A friend told me a story the other day that I related to and I wonder how many others will as well? This friend is a ski buddy. He told me that he arrived at The Canyons Ski Resort where we ski (in Utah), parked, got on the gondola, and was excited and ready to go skiing. Checking for his smart-phone, he discovered it wasn’t there. He patted every conceivable pocket and then began to panic. Hello Social Media Anxiety! Hello Smart Phone Anxiety, to be more specific! Where is Oprah when we need her?

Yes, panic.

Is it true that my smart phone is smarter than me?

This was his cell-phone! Not his car keys, not his wallet, not truly anything important. As the gondola was continuing up the mountain, he could feel his heart rate increase, his blood pressure rise, and he tried talking to himself saying, “This is ridiculous.” He knew the phone had to be either in his car, down at the parking lot, or at worst, back at his condo nearby. He was suffering from Social Media Anxiety, or Smart Phone Anxiety in this circumstance. Hmmm, does the Psychiatric Journal have this among its list of disorders?

When the gondola reached the top, instead of exiting, he stayed aboard – circling back around the way he’d just come – to go back to his car and hopefully find the missing cell-phone. During this time, he was playing and re-playing every imaginable scenario of where the phone could be and, worse, what he’d have to do if he’d actually lost it.

Social Media platforms can be overwhelming

The short ride back down was interminable to him. Upon exiting he raced to his car and first checked outside in case he’d dropped it. Nope. A thorough search inside and no phone. Bummer. Now, he’d have to drive back to his condo. Of course, he felt this could not wait until the afternoon. After all, how could he possibly survive a few hours without his beloved phone?

He resisted the urge to speed back to the condo and did his best to both control his racing heart-beat and keep his foot from pressing full bore on the accelerator. Upon arriving back at his condo, he waited the interminable time for the garage door to open and then raced inside. Expecting to see the phone on the counter upon entering, he was stunned that it wasn’t there. He looked everywhere it could possibly be – in his mind. No phone.

Now, he took a deep breath. This is crazy. Where is the darn phone? What am I going to do, he thought?

Anxiety over Comments on a Blog – Cartoon

He got a flash that perhaps he’d taken it with him into the bathroom upstairs. Racing upstairs, he enters the bathroom and sees the precious phone sitting on the counter.

Now, he looks around – as if he were on Candid Camera – and feels like a complete fool. It’s a phone. A PHONE.

I’m sure you realized – early on – that said friend was me. I will also admit that I downplayed the degree of panic I felt during this “ordeal.”

Infographic cartoon about how to use a smart phone

Who else can relate to this? Who else depends – or thinks he or she depends – on their phone as if it were a lifeline?

If I’m acting this way, how are my kids acting given their greater dependence on their phones for their social lives? Or, am I just an over-the-top adult exception?

I don’t know. All I know is that I felt and feel embarrassed and ridiculous that I got so worked up over a little piece of technology.

Technology mistakes lead to job loss cartoon

Now, I’m wondering about some sort of tether to the phone so I can’t possibly misplace it again?

What do you think about all of this?

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The Empty-Nest Road Trip Blues book cover


  • Michelle_Mazur

    This is me, but not to that extreme. If I forget my phone, and I know where it is that’s find. If I can’t find my phone, I start freaking out. However, iPhones have a find my phone app. It geo locates your phone and you can sound an alarm to help you locate it (if you lost it in your house).

    • Bruce Sallan

      @Michelle_Mazur:disqus – IF you lost it in your house!

  • Saturngirl17

    Oh this is definitely me! I have a total panic attack without my phone. How did I exist all those years before without one? It is truly a disturbing realization how attached I am to it!! 

    • Bruce Sallan

      I suspect we are NOT alone @28037c6daebaec5d75f694e21e2df8e6:disqus !!!

  • Bill Draeger

    When you’re my age, a cell phone could literally be a lifeline. 

    • Bruce Sallan

      Thankfully, @twitter-377665846:disqus – I’ve got YEARS to go before I’m as ooolllldddd as you are!

  • Susan Silver

    Dumb phone for life. I might have to have a smart phone for work, but I think I’ll limit that time to office hours. Emergencies only outside of that. I just can’t imagine living a life where I had to be tethered to the phone every minute.

    • Bruce Sallan

      Too many of us do, @susan_silver:disqus 

  • Mila Araujo

    Hilarious and true. I don’t know, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to panic when you think you’ve lost your phone. If you lost your wallet you’d be just as freaked out. I kind of love the fact that I’ve got this thing that I can access all areas of my life with, do work, have fun, learn and store everything I need. Yes- if I lose it I will freak out, but only for as long as i can get to a store and drop the miney for another one – (that wiuld probably upset me us much as the inconvenience) we have to live knowing it can happen and make sure we have back ups, lockouts, and all precautions in place.

    Whether it’s your wallet or your phone – it’s about the information within it for most of us. More so than some crazy need to not miss a minute online. What do you think?

    • Bruce Sallan

      I think you’re right @Milaspage:disqus and I still think it’s funny how dependent we ALLOW ourselves to get on our “things!”

  • Kenna Griffin

    I would have a full-on breakdown if I lost or forgot my phone. I’m just being honest. It’s an appendage. I recognize my addiction. It is what it is.

    • Bruce Sallan

      That is pretty much how I reacted Professor @twitter-27305797:disqus 

  • EB

    I NEED my phone. I’m not going to say I trade one of my offspring to keep it (2 year old son perhaps?), but I’d have to think about it!

    • Bruce Sallan

      I need mine, too…@ebuttscpa:disqus 

  • Patrick

    I have had the same thing happen and felt exactly the same way. It’s not so much anxiety about social media or the lifeline aspect, because ultimately, no one can get into my phone unless they unlock it, and I have an app that’ll allow me to erase it if I need to.

    The issue is that I don’t want to spend $700 on a new phone just because I lose my current one. if it were a $50 phone, that’d be one thing. But today, a phone is a computer that does so much more than just make calls. I don’t even like the idea of paying the “new” price for a new phone with a contract, which is either $99 or $199. But full retail for replacement? Yeah, that’s more than enough to make me panic! 🙂 

    • Bruce Sallan

      It’s funny @Patricksplace:disqus – I didn’t think about the money – just the hassle!

  • EnterpriseMobility

    Ha, this happens to me often.. another part of the anxiety though, is the $700 pricetag to replace an unsubsidized iPhone. 😉

    • Bruce Sallan

      You’re the 2nd person to say that @twitter-983056830:disqus 

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  • David Weber

    About 36 hr. ago, I returned from a week-long trip to the U.K.  I brought my phone (a smartphone altho not an iPhone) with me overseas.  I turned it off the data-receiving function and turned off the phone entirely while I was there except for when I made an outgoing call or two. I kept the silent, lifeless phone in my lodgings, not even taking it with me during the day.  It was liberating.  

    Also, because email access was logistically so difficult, I simply stopped doing email for the week.  Again, liberating…although the massive pile of email waiting for me when I got home (and which I mostly  had tamed before retiring Sun. night) was awful to churn through.