The 17 Ways Smartphones Are Making Us Dumb
Smartphones are a reasonably recent phenomenon, and yet they are today omnipresent in our lives. It’s a realization that we shy away from, but we’re pretty damn controlled by those little machines in our palms. Deep down, we feel like we’re nothing without them. That is addiction, pure and simple. Before you fall too deeply into the engineered traps of this technology, be aware of the harmful effects of this endemic.
1. Are you present in the present?
You’ve probably seen those sidewalk signs telling you to “Look up!” at a crosswalk near you. This wasn’t always necessary! People have become so engrossed in their phones that common sense goes out the window. Likewise, think about when you are at a breathtaking spot in nature, or a concert, and no one is taking notice of the experience, but rather taking a snapshot in an attempt to show off to others. You shouldn’t have to define yourself completely by others opinions, so give yourself a break and feel.
2. Car crashes.
Far too many people do not realize the deadly potential they hold when behind the wheel. You are constantly confronted with people flippantly texting, tweeting, or browsing Facebook while driving. It is incredibly well documented that doing so raises the chances of being in an accident hugely. Is checking Instagram worth taking your own priceless life, or having to live with the deaths of others on your conscience? Short answer: No.
3. Dating and love.
Who hasn’t heard of that classic saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”? Well, unfortunately, that is increasingly the case when it comes to our love lives. The organic magic of love seems to be ever-diminishing when people feel that their options are limitless. We’re becoming increasingly shallow. Too often, we caustically swipe away one person’s entire personality in lieu of another’s manipulated appearance. If we are honest with ourselves, the idiom “Easy come, easy go,” is deeply rooted in our psychology, as is that truism “Good things take time.
4. Our ability to retain information.
It’s a scary one, but probably quite of a few of us have experienced that dropping feeling when we are frantically trying to remember the phone numbers of our spouses, children, friends, or parents. There’s no excuse – we should know these numbers, and we’re clearly far too reliant on our phones because, well, our phones die. The same phenomena applies to our ability to remember important general knowledge. We’re increasingly letting Google replace our actual memories. It’s pure laziness and self-deception.
5. Anxiety charged.
People today have actual anxiety attacks when their battery is looking a little low. There’s a strange anxiety at work here – if it does actually die, we delude ourselves that there is there are life-changing messages and phone calls coming through. It’s straight-up FOMO. The thing is, it’s a bit pathetic. You get the impression when you go to your local cafe or bar and you see people hooked up to the wall, their phones charging, that they’re basically using their smartphones like little shields or statements, as if to say, “I’m not alone. I’m important. I’ve got friends. I’m busy.”
6. Communication and connection.
So much of the time, we txt or email each other, even though we know that the other person would be easily reached with a phone call, or a face-t0-face visit. We’re scared and we’re hiding it. In fact, go to a public space and keep a close eye on whether young people can talk for 10 minutes without checking their phones. We’re so used to it that we don’t notice the insulting realization behind that action: there’s something happening on there that is more important than your time.
Posture has suffered en masse because we’re so frequently hunched over our phones. If we’re still hunching this way for our entire lives, we’re going to be some horrifically stooped old people.
8. Employment and job prospects.
There were times when offices banned phones, and the internet was heavily controlled. The idea was that people would actually get their jobs done, learn more about their field of work, and advance their employment abilities. Today, it seems that work is often just a forum to sleuth around social media, getting jealous and wanting to be somewhere else, or complaining about your job, feeling blue about your life. It’s called relative depravity, and it’s a quite pathetic form of procrastination. Chances are, you’re going to go home and spend your evening on social media, so forego it at work at get ahead with your career.
9. Increased stress levels.
The aforementioned FOMO gets truly palpable when it comes to when one brakes their phone. People are literally held hostage to getting their phone back, and repair businesses take advantage of this. Your precious little phone has become your memory and a kind of social sucrose that we need to constantly suckle on in order to feel productive and alive. The thing is, social media and the constant hypodermic injection of hyper-real celebrity ideals makes us feel inferior. It is a vicious cycle – our self-esteem drops and then that damaged sense of self becomes vulnerable and easily manipulated. Our emotional health is, after all, an extremely profitable terrain.
10. Stupid spending.
Smartphones are ridiculously expensive. Just as we have been cleverly nurtured into believing that a constant stream of ‘new’ data satisfies us that we are indeed alive, the materialistic cult of ‘newness’ extends to our envy of new products. We need the latest, in order to not be left behind, irrelevant, and undesirable. The thing is, if you aren’t a tech expert, there’s actually very little difference between a basic smartphone and a giant tablet of a phone. Trends come and go, but don’t be a sucker. It’s pretty safe to say that chunky phones will soon be out, and we’ll rebound to smaller models, questioning ‘what were we thinking.’ Then the vice versa will occur. Don’t shell out for the ’emperor’s new clothes.’ Break the chain and develop yourself a personality, instead of buying yourself a sheepskin.
11. Our sex lives.
The psychological impact of phones on our lives is most palpable when it becomes clear that many people would actually rather brainlessly gawk at their social media feed and/or perve jealously at the ‘real’ lives of others than indulge that most intimate and precious of acts: sex. Many couples today lie there in bed, side-by-side, but are distances apart in terms of paying attention to each other, because they are on their phones.
Kent State University research has found a direct correlation between high phone use and low fitness levels. Don’t be tricked by the fitness apps. In that study, those with the ‘courage’ to control their phone use to 90 minutes per day had the highest levels of fitness. It’s also clear that those with higher fitness levels are happier, so you’re really in to experience a win-win if you curb your phone reliance.
13. The amount and quality of our sleep.
Not only are you less likely to be having sex if you’re using your phone in bed, you’re carving away the important regenerative powers of sleep. Studies have proven that using your phone in bed keeps your brain active so that not only is it more difficult to fall to sleep, but that when you do fall to sleep, it is of a lesser quality. Desperately seeking other people’s approval on Instagram or seething with jealousy while nourishing a growing inferiority complex can suck on a big, fat sleep.
14. Our hearing.
Next time you are on your commute, try to spot the person not rocking headphones. Now, we’re not hating on music. It is one of life’s great pleasures, and it can certainly make our journeys more enjoyable. The problem is, that when you’ve got your headphones on blast on the subway, you’re permanently damaging your eyes. That means it’s a self-fulfilling downward spiral – once your hearing is damaged, you turn the volume up higher and do more damage, and so it goes.
15. Attention spans and ability to come up with organic ideas.
As we’ve established above, people who rely heavily on their phones have trouble on focusing on their jobs, their relationships, and the outside world. This is because so much of their cognitive ability is actually invested on the possibilities of what could be happening in their virtual reality. This applies to coming up with truly original ideas, or having a unique conversation. Something painful to experience is when you witness a group or a couple of people and they are all holding their phones. Instead of organically producing a relationship based on the priceless combination of personal knowledge, they spout factoids from newsfeeds that, in actual fact, bear little relevance to their friendships or meaning in the world. They are literally being fed the words in their mouths. That’s not interesting. That’s not cool. That’s tragic.
People have reported a marked increase in headaches, vision problems, carpal tunnel issues, and fatigue. These studies are still new, as the phenomenon is so recent, but it’s ubiquity is, to be honest, pretty telling. Smartphone addiction has taken root with an unprecedented rapidity. As we have established above, it seems inevitable that a whole host of mental and physical health problems will increasingly come to light in the coming years.
Live your one life to the fullest and experience the world with the wondrous ability of all of your senses. There’s not enough time to waste it.