An Inquiry into the Use of the Mobile Phone (Cell Phone, Smart Phone)
Part One. The Addiction
While out and about on my bike, I (nearly) bump into the back of addicts on the streets of Totnes and the tracks along the river and into the countryside.
Drug addicts? No
Alcohol addicts? No
Gambling addicts? No
Mobile phone addicts? Yes.
Mobile phone addicts engage in substance abuse (mobile phone) affecting mental health, the brain and well-being. The addiction reduces capacity to handle problematic situations arising in daily life.
Such an addiction generates unhappiness and suffering. The level of addiction increases in the desire to get away from stress, headaches and feeling low. Such an addict can spend hours everyday living in a bubble disconnected from the reality of the world around.
The mobile phone has become one of the dominant ways to escape from daily life.
The mind-set and the substance co-exist where absence triggers withdrawal symptoms with an inability to let go of the substance, even if not in direct use.
On my bike, I make a point of giving two or three strong rings of the bell on the handlebars, and more if I see the person’s head looks down. Excuse the judgemental mind, I call this the Walking Zombie Posture. At any moment, such a person may wander right or left, as she or he stares into the phone inviting a collision with passerby or cyclist. Others might have their earphones glued into the ears. This requires enthusiastic bellringing – in case they are using earphones.
Research and Advice
I decided to engage in research on Google into addiction to mobile phones. Here is what I found. There is an immense amount of research available on the impact on the mind, brain and our life due to prolonged daily use of the mobile.
The number of daily hours spent on the mobile phone increases year by year with addiction getting higher and higher among children.
Admittedly, I am not a Western psychotherapist who might have a reluctance to give advice or tell people what they should do. Despite the word vice sitting in the word advice, the offering of advice has a place as long as the advisor does not depend on being heard and trusts enough people can benefit from advice. We take advice from people on a whole range of matters, probably daily.
This blogger advises you to take an honest look at the actual amount of time you spend on a blog in seven days. Addicts suffer a great deal from self-deception – imagining they can handle the addiction and deny a problem with a substance.
- Spend seven days adding up the minutes per day engaged in substance abuse
- Do not lie to yourself
- Decide what you wish to cut down to per day
- Spend the following seven days counting the minutes
- Reflect on a wise response to the third week.
Results of a USA Survey of Time on the Mobile Phone
The Statista 2021 survey asked 2000 adults:
How much time on average do you spend on your phone on a daily basis (not work related)?
This is what the survey revealed assuming the respondents had an accurate rough idea of the amount of time.
- 5% used their phone for less than an hour per day
- 16% used their phone for 1-2 hours per day
- 22% used their phone for 3-4 hours per day
- 46% used their phone for 5-6 hours per day
- 11% used their phone for 7 hours per day or more.
Nearly half of those in the survey said they spend 5-6 hours using their phone. Let us say, we live until we are 80 years of age. If you spend 5-6 hours, per day, using your mobile phone, it means you spend between 16 years to 20 years, 24/7, of your whole life in a tiny bubble. If you add other screen time, plus sleep, plus work related use of the mobile phone, your quality of life becomes a marginal consideration.
- How can anybody be deeply happy and content living in such a bubble?
- How can anybody know a deep connection with others if the mobile phone takes priority?
- Who in their right mind would neglect their family members, loved ones and friends and, instead, spend the time obsessively checking their phone for messages, games, scrolling down the screen, meaningless entertainment, and other trivial pursuits?
- Who in their right mind would want to come to end of their life and claim to have been happy burying themselves in a phone for 16-20 years?
In case you are wondering. I have a mobile phone. I am in the 5% bracket. Why? I wanna life. I regard it as a top priority as far back as I can remember. We are often told to live one day at a time. Next month, I am 78 years old. I live half a day at a time.
I might listen to music on Netscape or Podcasts while lifting the weights up to heaven and back down to earth in the gym in the Totnes Leisure Centre. The phone is in my pocket but does not require looking at it. My 5% time does not include time in the congregation of the Church of Gymism.
Change an Addiction requires Motivation
You may not wish to live your life in the little bubble of a substitute parallel universe. If you cannot burst the bubble, then form a group of addicts to co-operate together to free up the heart-mind. Find someone who will check in with you so you can get your life back. Is there anything more precious that we can do for ourselves?
Facebook, Instagram, Snap Chat, Tick Tock, Twitter, Linkedin and more engage in every device possible to get you hooked. They use every strategy to fuel your dependency to promote substance abuse.
Remember every employee of these large powerful corporations from the CEO downwards probably has a mobile phone addiction. They live enslaved to the aims of their mobile phone company and social media.
Good publicity or bad publicity serves the motivations to get your attention, buy your attention and minimise your time in the real world.
Addicts cannot advise addicts on how to end an addiction. These addictive personalities among employers and employees waste most of their life living in a daily bubble. Like all other phone addicts, they live detached from reality, cut off from the beauty, wonder and suffering on this earth. Superficial online contact takes priority over the real needs of humanity.
Addicts working for such companies may well spend 8-12 hours per day engaged in one way or the other with promoting use of a mobile phone. These companies spend massive sums of money marketing their products. They have brought our attention away from the real into a false reality. That requires ongoing marketing until customers reach the point of addiction. Then the marketing agencies target the young to get them addicted at an early an age as possible.
These tech companies may not think this way but they reveal a relentless desire to maximise their share of the global market through getting consumers attached to their product. That is an addiction.
Have you become a Product?
Ask yourself some tough questions.
• What shows wise use of a mobile phone? Be specific. List details. List time.
• What shows a life-numbing waste of time picking up your mobile phone? Be specific. List details. List time.
• What shows a life-numbing waste of your precious life using it? Be specific. List details. List time.
• Are you afraid to ask yourself about your dependency on the phone to fill in time?
• Have you sacrificed your humanity for most of the day?
Have you become out of touch with the vibrancy of what surrounds you?
• Have you become a product?
• Have you become a remote control, namely a mechanical user of the phone?
• Why does your addiction stop you from being in control of your life?
• How can you take charge of your life if you do not have one?
•Do you say to yourself or others ‘I am not scared of death. I am not scared of dying?”
The unlived fear death the most.
We know if we are scared of death when we experience firsthand being close to death – whether through sickness, an accident, violence or age.
Part Two (to write in March 2022)
Impact of the addiction in personal life and relationships
Part Three (to write in March 2022)
Practical Steps to end addiction
May all beings live with peace of mind
May all beings stay connected with life
May all beings engage with life.