Inbox Anxiety – F.O.B.O (fear of being offline)

If we are to believe advertising agencies, the lead-up to Christmas is one glamorous flurry of excitement, parties and glorious food shared with smiling friends and relatives  (dozens of them, and all perfectly dressed and coiffured)
Rooms are styled and presents are heaped. Piles of gorgeous beribboned boxes of hope lie in wait. Children are cheerful and beautifully behaved and families are in full control of their happy lives.
Right then – let’s get real.
The wonderful Paul Simon wisely offered,
“The thought that life could be better, Is woven indelibly into our hearts and our brains.”
Counselling can often uncover feelings of shame and anxiety, which are amplified at Christmas when people are prone to wonder if others are having a more successful time.
This can so easily lead to a search for rescue through phones and tablets culminating in the infectious syndrome ‘FOBO – Fear Of Being Offline’
Could there be somewhere out there an invitation or message that could lead to a night of fun and frolics? Are others more organised, and worse still, are they more popular?
Research now uncovers a worrying trend showing that we are so linked to our smartphones that we are firmly attached to them constantly through our waking hours and keep them close even when we are asleep.
This leads to problems in couples when the phone starts to feel as if one, or both, partners are having a better relationship with their phone than with their significant other.
In some cases, the phone will be described as a major barrier to closeness. One in ten of us checks emails straight after having sex.
This can fracture real human closeness while we desperately try to keep connected with people and experiences contained in a tablet.
We search constantly to be linked to places, people and sites that could add to self esteem and fuel a sense of importance and acknowledgement.
Holidays such as Christmas take us out of our ordinary routine and our usual habits.
It can also be a time to relish quietness. But for some, the absence of ‘normal’ activity feels frightening.  Being relentlessly busy means always being connected …. But this is a false sense of self.
Let’s accept our real lives. At this time as at every other there will be disappointment and let-downs. Understand this and don’t let commercial and social pressures feed insecurity. Take a digital holiday break. Learn to do without phones and tablets, especially while in the company of others.
That backlit blue light raises Seratonin not compatible with the natural rhythms of our bodies.
Real life might not live up to the fantasy of what else could be out there – but the task is not to allow the need for imaging a better time spoil what is good enough, as especially during these holidays when we can so easily live with a constant state of yearning or disappointment.
Paul Simon finishes here by his thought that
‘Life is what you make of it, so beautiful or so what’

 

Christina Fraser

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