Bzzzt.

false

Check me. Don't you want to know who it is? What they're saying? Check. Only takes a second ... What are you missing?

So pesters my phone each time a text bounces off some satellite.

Sometimes my hand fetches it in reflex; sometimes not (probably because my hands are wet or already occupied). Even so, I read 99 percent of texts within seven minutes of receiving them. I may interrupt meals, homework or even falling asleep to read a message. Why?

FOMO, or fear of missing out. That maybe, just maybe the text will notify me of some timely factoid or invitation or emergency or whatever. How many times does that happen? Rarely. But you never know ...

Bzzz-Bzzzt.

Ooh, a picture message. Must be important - or, better yet, entertaining. You need a five-second break right now ... What are you missing?

I don't own my phone; my phone owns me. Many people are owned by something electronic. If not their phone, it's Facebook or Twitter or BuzzFeed or one of the myriad of time-wasting websites. That sounds cynical because I am highly suspicious of anyone who uses any of those sites in moderation. Electronic communication packages social interaction, and it matters not whether those packages are good or bad. It is the mere fact that you receive those packages that gives you a little dopamine rush.

How to amend this slavish behavior? In the case of the phone, I've started to ignore messages for a little while. Doing so reveals my addiction - it feels like someone putting a dollar in front of me and saying, "Leave it there." Sometimes I fail, sometimes not.

Bz-

Not now.

Ignoring messages feels empowering. I - not my electronics - should choose when to immerse my mind in the electronic realm. This might dent my social favor as (correct me if I'm wrong) there's a social expectation to respond to messages in a timely fashion because everyone's tied up in the FOMO to some degree (isn't it irritating when someone doesn't respond quickly? Psst, that's why phone calls exist), but that's OK.

To feel like I'm on call to everyone I know 24/7 isn't necessary or enjoyable. My phone is a tool, not a taskmaster. Don't you agree?