Digital Downfalls: Are Smartphones an Opioid?
Picture this scenario: It’s a Saturday morning. After taking your time waking up and getting out of bed, you make your way toward the kitchen where you pour yourself a cup of coffee. It’s a beautiful day, so you pick up a magazine and head outside to enjoy some sun as you sip and read. Sounds like a perfectly wonderful way to spend the first hour of your day–but for the majority of us, this description is likely missing some detail. Perhaps this sounds more accurate: It’s a Saturday morning. Upon opening your eyes, you instinctively reach for your smartphone, eagerly scrolling through to catch up on new texts, emails, news stories and Facebook notifications. Your attention is fixed on the screen for several minutes before you pull yourself out of bed. As you pour yourself some coffee, you check out your Instagram feed. You place your phone in the pocket of your pajama pants as you flip through your magazine–only to reach for it when you feel a slight vibration. Your heart sinks when you see that no new notifications await, but now that your phone’s out anyway, decide to see what’s happening on Facebook.
Sounding familiar? Allow me to continue:
You choose to sit inside–the sunlight makes it difficult to see your screen. You get halfway through a great article on one of your favorite topics when your phone lights up with another notification. Resisting the temptation to look becomes a distraction in itself. As you pick it up, you feel a rush of pleasure. Suddenly, it’s the afternoon, and you’ve got nothing to show for your morning. Pleasure is replaced with a vague guilt as you ask yourself, is this really how I want to be spending my time?
The answer is likely a resounding No.
Over 65 percent of Americans now own a smartphone. The average individual checks their phone 150 times a day. Even if we spent just thirty seconds on our phone for each of those “checks”, it would amount to over an hour of phone time. But once we check in, it can be difficult to pull ourselves away. Some of you may attribute your constant need to pick up your phone to a lack of willpower. But I want to tell you something critically important: It’s not you: It’s the phone. It’s the Age of Distraction.
In the workplace, distraction costs U.S. businesses $650 Billion per year. What is the cost to our priceless emotional life; to our love relations?
In May, I wrote about the dangers and pitfalls of text messaging when it comes to intimacy. Unfortunately, this is just one of the many Digital Downfalls in our new tech-oriented cultural landscape. This week, I’m introducing a new series on the blog that will shed light on the ways the smartphone and app industry manipulates our psychological instincts to their greater advantage.
This is about so much more than screen time. This is about the human need to connect, and the fear of aloneness and isolation that we all experience in our lives. It’s about the chemical and neurological makeup of addiction and how that translates to the “ping!” you hear, or the phantom vibrations you feel. Technology has revolutionized our world while simultaneously introducing a slew of problematic behaviors and patterns that we experience daily. The solution begins with self-awareness: And that’s what this series is for. By making you more aware of your unconscious habits surrounding your smartphone, I want to help lead you toward a more intentional, truly connected life.
I look forward to truly connecting with you on this journey.
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