Call Me a Hermit Crab

We live in a revolutionary time. We seek instant gratification through our phones. We sigh when an advertisement plays before a YouTube video. That merciful pop up of, “skip ad countdown” never goes fast enough. We don’t read news articles anymore, we skip straight to the comments and wage war. Our skin becomes clammy and our heart rates increase when our phones aren’t within reach. We say we are going to bed, only to be glued to our phones for another hour. We’re afraid will miss the next hashtag on Twitter, or that no one will like our witty comment on the state of the upcoming election. There’s something wrong when we can’t cross a street without glancing at our phones. It’s a street, and in car versus man, the car will win every time.

I say this more for myself than anyone else. I’ve become so disconnected with the world around me that I dread actual social interaction. I have anxiety and panic attacks. My home is my sanctuary. I’d rather be at home on my computer than eating dinner with friends at Chili’s. When I find myself out with friends, it’s a struggle to put the phone down and be present. I pick my phone up as a defense when the conversation lulls, or when I feel the desperate nails of panic claw into skin. There’s no rhyme or reason for the tidal wave of nausea that hits me, but my phone has become this lifeline to distract myself from that need to run to the bathroom and throw up my dinner.

My attention span has become that of about 30 seconds. If what I am looking at hasn’t captured me by then, I move on. I never used to be that way. I was patient. I asked questions. I engaged. I didn’t dread talking on the phone. I actually used my phone as a phone. I’ve become that lady who says,

“Ain’t nobody got time for that.”

Something needs to change. This world has become a violent and scary place. We only get one life, and living behind a screen isn’t how I want to look back on my life. I used to be spontaneous and adventurous. I’ve let my anxiety clip my wings, and I’ve sought solace in my phone. This is my apology to my friends and my family for secluding myself away in Casa de Hermitaña. It’s been two years of quality time with my cats and books, but if I expect to find happiness again, I need people. I need to allow myself to breathe, to put the phone down and be myself again. I need to stop living behind a screen and drink in that wild air that lies beyond my door. I have to stop sleeping with my phone by hand. It’s time to be me again.

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