The Stress That Comes From Unread Notifications

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Photo by Rahul Chakraborty on Unsplash

hen it comes to technology, there are two types of people in this world — Those who frequently check all of their phone apps throughout the day in order to zero out their notifications and those who will always have those annoying, little unread notification icons sitting in the top right corner of their apps.

As for me, I’m the former. I can’t stand allowing any unread notifications to sit for longer than a few hours, let alone an entire day. If I receive a text, I have to read it. If I receive a few e-mails, I have to open them. If there are any missed calls or voicemails, I have to see who they’re from and listen to them.

This type-A characteristic of mine makes it incredibly hard to stop myself from looking at my phone quite often. It’s not something that I’m at all proud of. My boyfriend on the other hand is the latter. He has absolutely no problem letting notifications remain unread or unopened for days or sometimes even weeks, which I guess makes sense for the two of us being together. If he had the same tendencies as me, we’d both be sitting in silence, staring at our phones every time we were together. After all, opposites attract, right?

However, I never understood (and I still don’t understand) how anyone could tolerate seeing those unread notification icons on their phone all the time. To me, it’s like shoving a bright neon light in front of my face all day long. Leaving notifications unread is like allowing dirty dishes to pile up in the kitchen sink — which is another thing I don’t understand how people can allow going unattended to for so long. I see it as a chore that should get dealt with right away.

But, I know everyone operates differently, of course. I know everyone’s brain works differently. Everyone processes information in a different way. Everyone has their own pet peeves or things that irritate them or make them cringe. And in a world where we are constantly plugged into technology, where we are constantly on our phones, on our computers, and in the know, something as seemingly minuscule as an unread notification can feel like a huge burden.

The thing is, over time, as technology has developed and become more sophisticated, it has also slowly lured us into its web, making us increasingly more dependent on it. We’ve gotten to a point where there are times when we can’t imagine a world without it. We can’t fathom the idea of living without it even for a day.

For example, being someone who is extremely terrible at directions, I often find myself in situations where I heavily rely on my phone to provide me with directions. Just thinking of what it would be like to navigate places on my own, I truly believe that I’d be completely lost anytime I had to go somewhere new.

This dire dependency on technology instills such a level of stress and anxiety on us because it has worked its way into being such an integral part of our daily lives. It has become so ingrained in our culture and in our daily routines that we don’t even realize how much it has affected us.

The stress that comes from unread notifications stems from this unconscious, lingering thought of, “What could I be missing out on right now?”

It stems from the fear that something important could always be happening and we want to be a part of it.

Yes, technology has proved itself to be beneficial in so many areas, but it has reared many consequences as well. For instance, it has left us extremely vulnerable when it comes to the feeling of being alone. The irony is that even though technology has brought the world so much closer together, it has simultaneously made us feel so much lonelier.

They say knowledge is power, but to what extent?

Maybe we know too much — Not necessarily in terms of education, but in terms of knowing the ins and outs of each other’s lives. Some of us have become so involved, so overwhelmed with the level of insight that we’re able to get into other people’s lives (even those whom we’ve never met before) that it’s had an emotional and psychological impact on us.

For those of us, like me, who are so affected by unread notifications and the overabundance of information that’s constantly being funneled in and out of our phones or computers, we need to put our phones down and take a step back once in a while. We need to detach ourselves from technology, unplug, and unwind.

Technology has created this unnecessary sense of false urgency that we need to learn how to ignore because if we don’t, it will consume us. It will ultimately be our downfall.

Written by

Part-time Writer & Full-time Digital Advertising Expert in Queens, New York. Avid runner & Plant Mom. I write about writing and life.

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