Monday, March 4, 2013

I was bit by a dog, but experienced more anxiety from my phone

So today (meaning yesterday) was one of those days where I just wanted to smack myself and yell out "SERIOUSLY!" There is only so much you can do to stay bubbly before the world just spits in your face - or in my case, bites your leg.

On my way out to my car I noticed someone had double parked and blocked me in. Just great. So in addition to having to go door-to-door trying to find the culprit of the park and dash, I was attacked and bit by a dog. Now, I wish I could say that this was a huge ass dog with fangs like a Basilisk and paws like a bear... A dog that was frothing at the mouth with rage in its eyes! But embarrassingly enough I was bit by this tiny white fluffy -what I call a - "kick-me dog". Okay, so take that picture there just below and imagine him just a little bigger and mangier!

Image from:

You know what I'm talking about and don't even pretend like I'm some Death Eater who's out to kick puppies. I love dogs. I love puppies even more (hard to believe), but there is something about the small, yappy vicious dogs where they bark at you one too many times and you have the urge to punt them like a kicker going for a field goal. Yet the whole time I could feel this little shit's teeth trying to sink into my leg, all I could think about was how annoying this stupid dog was and how I just wanted it out of my way.

But being bitten, or even just ambushed by an animal can be a fairly traumatic experience for someone and cause a lot of anxiety. I'm going to switch gears and share with you the real source of my anxiety, which came later on in the day: technology.

My supervisor in clinic said something really profound this weekend. She said that we're now in a world where we are expected to be available all the time, and where we're expected to respond instantly. And think about it: If someone doesn't respond to a text or email within 10 minutes, do you ever wonder why they aren't responding? Maybe they don't like you. Maybe they're with cooler people than you. Maybe something terrible happened to them. Maybe they're just busy and are ignoring their phone. You have no idea, it could be anything! But we get sucked into this need to constantly know everything all the time. We update our statuses religiously, and if no one "likes" something that we put on Facebook, we immediately take that as rejection.

For a teenager I can only image how influential this is on their mental well-being. I never had a cell phone as a teen. I carried an "emergency" quarter in my backpack in case I needed to use a payphone. We didn't have text messaging. Closer to the end of high school we had ICQ messenger... but it was on dial-up internet and if you were "offline" you truly were offline. Now, you can hide your status. Pretend like you're busy. Or maybe you really are busy, but no one really knows and we're all so obsessed with knowing!

Our phones have become our lifelines. And I didn't realize the impact it had on me until today. I actually switched from my Android to the iphone 4. Granted, it's not the new snazzy iphone, but it does the trick, and it likes to talk to my MacBook. I joke that when I plug my phone in to my mac, they form a shadow government and start syncing secret information. Because really, I don't know what happens in the Cloud and I'm pretty sure I can't even get access there yet.

My point is, for the entire day I obsessed over setting up this phone. Syncing my calendar, my music, making sure I still have Wham! as my ringtone, and transferring all my contacts which apparently can't be done. Seriously, we have the power to follow the trajectory of meteors but someone couldn't figure out how to transfer a contact list from one phone to another? And this was my biggest stressor of the day! That dog bite took the backseat on my anxiety scale.

So what is to happen to future generations? Will we be riddled with anxiety disorders? Depending on how we use them, will our brains evolve or dissolve? Or maybe the Bichon Frise dogs are just waiting for our phones to explode and then they'll eat us and rule the world!