It's strange. If you throw a pebble in a crowd today, you are sure to hit an smartphone addict. The chances are high - and I dare say it's much higher than flipping a coin to get heads over tails.
Today's article is about such addiction. Leonid Bershidsky, the author of "I'm beating my smartphone addiction" wrote:-
"At 45, I'm a recovering addict. It's been four months since I uninstalled social networking apps, three months since I last posted on Facebook, and two months since I turned off all notifications on my smartphone."
He added: "We touch our smartphones - tap, click, swipe - more than 2,500 times a day. That's probably 100 times more often than we touch our partner. The reason we do it is that the phone constantly demands attention by sending us notification."
It's actually a living vortex that sucks you into a microcosm world of macrocosm stupendousness. That little small screen not just gets your attention, it grabs it, and devours it if you let it.
A casual switch and flip of that innocent device can transport you from a gentle garden path of cavalier browsing into hours lost in addictive chick flicks, Korean dramas, comedy snippets, friends-request investigative scrolling, enemy-trolling, semi-pornographical images, merchandise advertising, envy-arousing better-life-and-images of others, somebody's lunch and dinner display, somebody's holidays, somebody's kerfuffle (or Trump's covfefe), somebody's sob story or gossips, amateur music videos, fake news, sensationalistic news of the weirdest kind, friends' inane social bickering to-and-fro, and needless time spent on thinking, crafting, correcting and re-correcting a post or comment so that you put your most pretentious "best" to the digital fore in the vain hope of harvesting some patronising "likes" - (like what I am doing now...mm...)
And that is not considering other social medial platforms like twitter, YouTube and instagram, together with the selfies, wefies, wholevillagefies, and nanny mcphees.
...then you wonder, where have all the time, love and family gone?
I guess in our modern age of data overdose, what makes this peculiar addiction difficult to beat comes in three acronyms: FOMO, FOPL and FOLA.
FOMO - Fear Of Missing Out. Let's admit it, who wants to live in the digital Stone Age? We want to know, and to know instantly. They make for the best coffee table chats or watercooler gossips. It's like we have become a swirling vulture culture where we scour the digital landscape for carcass remains of the misery, shame and failures of others posted deliberately or accidentally (or vicariously) on social media.
FOPL - Fed On People's Likes. Sometimes, after a post, be it words or images, short or long screed, controversies or inanities, what keeps us going for more are the "likes" we receive. This spurs us on to become bolder, but not necessarily wiser.
Unfortunately, we run the risk of becoming shallower and shallower as we chase after the "Likes". And if we don't get the desired number (to match what we subjectively feel is an "awesome" post), it ruins our day and we start to self-condemn. Alas, in this depression-prone world, we really do not need another kick in the derrière to make us feel worse about ourselves...
(But honestly, just for Pete's sake, my post here is awesome right? So far?)
FOLA - Fear Of Losing Attention. This is the holy grail of social media for us. We are in this self-exalted digital world because we are just not getting the attention we crave after in the real world. Somehow, people who know us know us.
So that's a lost cause to win favour/recognition from them. This is where the anonymous and superficial world of technology grants us social redemption. We can project (and plan or design) our best self forward and gain the accolades of those who eventually become our unwitting followers.
But it is always an arm's length transaction so that we keep the digital world and the real world from colliding and unravelling our true self. What's worse is that we become what the social media wants us to become - more altruistic, more generous, more kind hearted and more caring - because that has mutated into a means to an end, and the end is to keep the "Likes" and "Followership" coming.
Alas, Albert Einstein once said: "I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots."
Having said all that, I guess everything has to be taken in moderation and balance. Aristotle's golden middle way is still the wisest way.
Needlessly to say, it is not practical to cut off smartphone and its leisurely diversions completely. Whether we like it or not, technology is here to stay, and we can always exercise discipline and restrain to embrace the technology without becoming a victim or hostage to it. In other words, we can always harness its goodness without harvesting its addictive woes.
So, for Leonid, the detoxification process, or the middle way, starts with this quote: "Comfort kills, discomfort creates".
By this, he means that "like someone trying to wean himself off a substance, (he) started experimenting with discomfort" because discomfort creates freedom (from addiction); it redeems back the "you" in you.
He went on about the detox program by losing the Facebook and Twitter apps that fed him nonstop with inconsequential updates. He "cut down on arguing with people", which he said was time-consuming and emotionally draining.
He also put an end to casual playing with smartphone when he's bored because an innocent romp usually turns into a helpless digital entanglement in a deadly spider's cobweb of social/emotional lobotomy (or zombification).
Thus far, Leonid wrote that he felt freer, happier and more emotionally connected with real people.
Here is how he described it: "I felt healthier, able to breathe easier, almost capable of re-learning how to lose myself in the company of my beloved wife and children, who are, of course, fighting their own battles with gadget addiction...perhaps our lives can be a little more like their pre-iPhone versions." Cheerz.