Deeply latching onto my neural mesh, the smartphone (the physical representation of my digital existence) and I have become one. Very much like a host and parasite, I use it, but most importantly, it uses me. While this symbiosis has many upsides, unchecked, it has the power to suck my humanity right out of me.
1) The smartphone has eliminated time for my mind to be with itself.
No more waiting, no more boredom, no more being alone. Anytime anywhere, a movie to watch, a book to read, some gossip to like and pay forward, games to play and pictures to see. Not even the elevator awkwardness is necessary anymore – eradicated by the smartphone. Rather than having entertainment as healthy escape every so often, entertainment has become a need. I have filled out all of the blank spaces in my day with digital activities. Reading an e-book while waiting in line, listening to that e-book while driving, wireless music while running. All the little spaces that my brain had to rest, have been occupied by digital engagement. Any idleness has been consumed by a limitless dimension that wants me and is actually paying for me. That’s right. I am not the consumer. I am the one being consumed.
2) The smartphone has eliminated the need to deal with my emotions.
Not feeling on top of my game? I may know that something is off, but I can brush that under the table with one more hit series, one more search, one more feed. So comforting and soothing. Why deal with any of my emotions if I can just float past all of them? While soothing, this has blocked my need to actually sort things within myself quickly. Being alone, either while running or meditating doing nothing is a painful process when something needs to be resolved within me. Now no longer. I can take away the pain and replace it by some but of news, a meme, or crucial information on how anybody I know wants me to think they are living their life. No pain, no need to change. All my stimulus towards having to sift through my emotional garbage is gone. Now I can jump from one new thing to another.
3) The smartphone has distanced me from cooking, music, art and everything that I love.
Watching something on the smartphone is easier than learning a song, easier than cooking and easier pretty much than anything else I know. Not that I don’t do those things anymore, I just do less of them. Rather than just using the smartphone as a portal towards discovering new recipes, songs, and possibilities, my unrestricted tethering to this device has made it difficult for me to have the mental space to engage in more complex activities. Easier to get a bag of something, sit down to watch the next Netflix show and be done with it.
4) The smartphone has changed my sense of time.
So much can happen in a digital second. Anything can happen anywhere in the world with anyone and I may miss out on it. No amount of connectivity is enough as each moment has become infinitely packed in terms of information. Every moment I am away from my phone is quietly filling me with anguish. The smartphone own me and has warped my will towards me thinking that I want to use it when actually I just cannot help but using it. Sounds familiar? That’s an addict right there.
And what do here?
1) It’s not the smartphone fault.
It’s mine. I am the one who has allowed this device to occupy such a large part of my time and consequently my existence. My flaw lies in not recognizing the downsides and structuring use around my overall goals and lifestyle.
2) Limiting the amount of time and becoming disciplined helps.
However, it is a bandage, not a cure. The true cure lies in addressing the anxiety I cultivate in my existence and embracing the emptiness within my being, for that is the space in which my soul can breathe.
3) Continuously recognizing this helps.
People smoked at a consumer level for decades before people realized that a perfectly “natural” habit from a social standpoint could do such harm to our bodies. We are at the age where the digital existence is unchecked and at its full power. We may continue geometrically down this path, but I think we will at some point realize that the very stuff that is empowering us, allowing us to become beyond human, is also destroying what made us human in the very first place.
Originally published on LinkedIn.com