C4 Challenge #28 - Contribution
Smart phones, addiction, and you.
One of the gifts given to my generation is that we knew a time before computers, cell phones, social media, and the instant connectivity to “everything” that comes via so-called smart devices. Back then if you wanted to meet a friend in a distant town, you connected and talked over a landline to establish where and when to meet. Then, you used a paper map to navigate unknown roads and streets to find your way to the agreed upon destination. You walked with your head up and were aware of the street signs and your surroundings. Smiles were often exchanged with others who would also be actively engaged and looking around. You would arrive on time (or earlier) at the specified location to link-up knowing that if you did not, your friend would be left stranded not knowing if or when you would be making it. Time was planned and carefully managed out of mutual respect for each other.
Today, this interaction is drastically different. Most likely a text is sent to a friend. This is followed by a round of back and forth messages to figure out the where and when. After all is settled, navigation to the destination is achieved by simply entering the location into an app on our phones. While driving to the destination, Siri will be voice activated to update our friend on our progress and how late we are going to be. While driving, we will hear multiple dings and alerts from our phone and we will not be able to stop the temptation to glance at the screen to see who just emailed us or if there is a message on a favourite social media app. We will then park where we’re told to by our phone and walk head down, phone in hand, following the prompts to turn left or right while checking in on news, likes for a recent post on social media, or if we have any new followers on our instagram account. Once we bump into our friend, we will engage in conversation, but it will be quickly interrupted by the vibration of the apple watch on his wrist and him pausing the conversation to take a quick glance to see the alert. This then will be followed by a quick apology and a statement that he unfortunately has to return an important call and that we should meet again soon.
There are many benefits to effectively used technology. Smart phones have the ability to provide instant communication and connectivity. Navigation is made easy. Pictures can be taken on the spur of the moment. Music can be downloaded instantly. Questions can be answered by a quick look on a search engine. Emails and messages can be sent from literally anywhere. Everything you need apparently available and imbedded in one small, portable, immediately accessible device that must be carried in your pocket always and everywhere. But there’s a cost to convenience.
Design and content creators are well aware of what is necessary to pull users into habitual use of their products. Apps are created to provide ease of use, convenience, “must” haves, and features toted to simplify every last challenge and problem in ones life. All of it aimed at breeding dependency. Over a short period of time our world has been transformed into one filled with smart phone addicts. It is almost ubiquitous. Constant hits of dopamine from likes, alerts, and notifications stimulate the user day and night. Smart phones are designed to be addictive in every way. Of course they are! This is how profits are created and market shares secured.
Now take a step back and consider the potential collateral damage from cell phones to our health, vibrancy, memory, concentration, and ability to connect with the world around us. Smart phones are powerful, EMF radiating devices that are being carried in pockets next to our reproductive organs and are constantly being placed next to our brains. For very obvious reasons, frequent exposure to radiation in these areas is not contributing to our health. It is well documented that frequent cell phone EMF exposure is a contributing cause to mitochondrial and cellular damage and is a causative factor for cancer.
Completely separate from this is the danger from data harvesting, surveillance, and control that is being exerted by big brother through these smart devices. But, that is a topic for another day and we will dive into personal cybersecurity in a separate challenge.
Now step back and take a look at your own use of your smart phone. Is it carried with you always? How often do you check it? Can you resist the “ding” of a notification and not look at your phone immediately? How many apps do you have notifications turned on for? How many apps do you have downloaded on your phone? Do you have your cell phone on 24hrs a day? Do you answer work calls after hours? Does your work expect you to be instantly available via your phone or computer? When you have a lull in your day do you instinctively pull out your phone? Do you feel panicked if you forget or cannot find your phone?
What do your answers to these questions tell you about your relationship and habits with your smart phone?
There are so many ways to tackle this issue. A few will simply toss their phone in the lake and just walk away. Others will feel too overwhelmed, throw their hands up and say it is all just too much and change nothing. Many will say it is a non-issue. Ignorance is another default. Most will just trudge on saying their dependence is not an addiction, but rather a necessity of their “busy” lives.
I know you, since we are on this C4 Challenge journey together, will consider, address, and tackle the addictive potential of smart phones head on. We have much to learn from each other on this topic, especially with the different demands of our professions and our roles as providers and protectors.
Personally, I view and employ my phone as a tool. Nothing more. I control its use and work hard to mitigate any risk it has on my health while taking advantage of the benefits it affords. Some practical things I have learned and do are as follows: