From Phone Addict to Phone Avoidant

I miss being grounded.

Don’t worry, I won’t delve into a deep philosophical conversation. We’re not discussing the adjective ‘grounded,’ as defined by Merriam-Webster, which describes ‘a person who is sensible and has a good understanding of what is really important in life.’

Instead, I’m referring to the punishment I received countless times from 1995 to 1999. In case you’ve never experienced being grounded (did you have parents?), let’s begin with some background about this form of discipline.

Theoretically, the effectiveness of grounding depends on taking away something meaningful from the person being punished.

Everyone experiences grounding differently. I recall a popular girl in high school, who always dressed stylishly and wore a lot of makeup. Once in class, I overheard her tell friends that her mom had grounded her and taken away all of her makeup. For her, this was a significant punishment. As stated above, the effectiveness of grounding relies on taking away something meaningful to that person. Having my makeup confiscated back then would have been a minor inconvenience; it would not have devastated me. No – my punishments were quite different.

Whenever I got grounded, the punishment was consistent: I lost my phone privileges and couldn’t hang out with friends. The length of time varied. The shortest grounding I ever received was perhaps 4 weeks? The longest lasted around 6 months. My mom didn’t mess around when it came to discipline. None of my friends ever experienced such lengthy groundings; theirs usually lasted a week, if not less. Ha! Not in my household. How could anyone truly learn a lesson from being grounded a mere week?

You may be wondering... why were Laura's punishments so harsh? She must have done some really bad stuff!

I would disagree with that. I wasn’t a perfect angel, yet I wasn’t a teenage terror. One time, I was grounded for arriving home exactly at curfew. Yes, you read that right. My curfew at the time was 10:30 pm, and I arrived home at exactly 10:30 pm. However, I was informed that I should have been home a few minutes earlier; I shouldn’t be”cutting it so close.” I kid you not. That actually happened. If you asked my mom, she would probably deny the story (it did happen). Regardless, the purpose of sharing this story is not to criticize my mom; she was doing her best to raise a decent human being, blah blah blah.

Now, let’s get back to my punishments. Being grounded always sucked, but during the school year, it wasn’t completely unbearable. I could still see and talk to my friends at school, and stay in the loop somewhat. However, being grounded in the summer was the worst.

Being unable to go out with friends rated around 7 on a scale of 1-10 (with 1 being not too bad and 10 being the worst). However, being denied the ability to talk on the phone scored as a solid 10. During my teenage years, I spent HOURS on the phone with friends. What did we talk about for hours-on-end? I have no idea. Regardless, being unable to talk on the phone was devastating, at least for the first few weeks.

Then, something strange would happen. After a period of time, I felt a sense of relief about not having to talk on the phone or make plans with friends. I emerged from my “cave” and actually interacted with my family. Dare I say – I became more pleasant to be around?

Then eventually, the grounding ended. I returned to spending all my free time in my "cave," talking on the phone for hours about who-knows-what.

Being grounded for weeks, or months, at a time wasn’t a pleasant experience. Despite eventually feeling relieved, I genuinely hated it. So why did I start this post by saying I miss being grounded?

People who know me now, but didn’t know me as a teenager, will find this story hard to believe. They will say there is no way that Laura ever spent HOURS on the phone with anyone. Nowadays, I’m known for barely speaking; some might say I’m practically mute. Half the time (most of the time) I don’t even answer my phone when I hear it ringing.

How did I go from being a teenage phone addict to someone who actively avoids phone calls like the plague?

I don’t know the answer to that. But strangely enough, I miss the days when I was punished and couldn’t talk on the phone or leave my house. Though I do occasionally scroll social media, I’m not one of those people who is constantly glued to her phone. I would love nothing more than to have my phone confiscated, rendering me unable to make or receive calls (or texts). Am I the only one who feels this way? I suspect that other introverts might relate. Share  your thoughts; I’d love to hear them.