On a slow Saturday evening, while sitting at home by myself, I craved for some excitement. A few years ago, seeking excitement inevitably involved movement and meeting other people. Not any more though. Not since I’ve been in a serious, committed and overtly monogamous relationship with my phone.

Today, this relationship has become the single most intimate connection in my life. I could spend hours with it and not know where the time has gone. I could be as needy or as neglectful as I choose to, and it’s still mine. It’s with me as I go to bed and right next to me as I wake up in the morning. It will never leave me — unless I leave it behind somewhere or drop it from a windowsill. And let’s admit it; this relationship can survive even that.

But most important of all, unlike a human being, my phone can satiate my every desire instantly. Don’t believe me? Think about it. Hungry kya? There’s Zomato and Swiggy. Feeling vain? Switch on that selfie camera. Dealing with loneliness? Swipe some time on Tinder, Bumble and Coffee meets Bagel. In the mood for some socialising? Choose between Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. Feeling curious? Google is just a few clicks away. All this, while sitting at home, without making any real effort or investment.

It’s truly a magical relationship, this intimate one-on-one I have with my phone. But it’s come to my attention recently, that like any good relationship, this one needs boundaries too.

Because, think about it: if I look to my phone to satiate every feeling that I am experiencing, even before I have entirely felt it, then how will I get used to feeling those feelings we all need to feel even though we don’t want to? I mean, obviously, the unpleasant ones like loneliness, insecurity, self-doubt, etc., which are necessary for our own growth as well-rounded human-beings.

My ever faithful phone, always competent and willing to come to my aid, offers me options to get over these feelings, even before I’ve explored the depth of its unpleasantness to see where it’s coming from. For example, let’s say I’m feeling immense self-doubt. All I need is a selfie, selected from among 20 others to showcase me in my most flattering angle, which I can then upload on a social networking site of my preference and just wait. With each ‘like’ I receive, my brain gets a little shot of ‘dopamine’ and in a while, I’ve forgotten about my self-doubt or why I was feeling the way I did.

Instant gratification is the name of the game. And distraction from real life is usually the best way to find it. But unless we find the root of a feeling, we will never know how deep it goes or why it stems from there, so that we may find a salve for it or work to uproot the issue entirely.

So even though, probably like you, I share an intimate relationship with my phone, I often use it as a crutch, mindlessly, as we have all learned to now, to evade a problem, and amply others, every time when confronted with an unpleasant emotion. The constant need to check my phone, the constant need to be distracted and the everyday anxiety that grows in furthering such a relationship cannot be good for us. Love and dependency are often interwoven, but it comes with a flip side. Next time you look to your phone for comfort, check if you are in fact, looking for a crutch.

write to me at raveena.j@paulsons.in