The smartphone twitch
This editorial ran in the St. John’s Telegram: The smartphone twitch Try it at a party some time. Take your smartphone out of your pocket, as if you’ve just felt the gentle vibration of an arriving text. But don’t even wake it up — if you turn the phone on, you might get distracted and miss the whole point of the exercise.
No, look at your blank phone for a moment, and then slide it back into your pocket or purse. Then watch.
No matter how engaging the conversation, no matter how close and enjoyable your friends are, you’ll see the other phones sneak out. And until they do, it’s surprising how uncomfortable your friends will become.
It’s not universal, of course: there are those among us who have yet to be indoctrinated into the brotherhood and sisterhood of the endorphin phone rush. Heck, there are still flip-phones around occasionally, and individuals with the strength to resist the urge. But it’s fewer and fewer every day. We’ve built an impressive technology — one that can get our attention during almost any waking hour, even if we neither enjoy what we’re seeing nor take any real pleasure in being constantly up-to-date.
We’re addicted to that little rush, as much as we might despise being tied to the internet world. Close to one in eight Americans already has a demonstrable internet addiction, and the numbers are growing.
Go on your phone and look up internet or electronic addiction, and you will see reams of information — gotcha! You’re looking at your phone again, right? Feeling the itch?
Behavioural scientists argue that we’re reprogramming our brains, that we’re training ourselves to want a jolt of news or just plain contact every few seconds — and the rewiring is difficult to change, especially when smartphones are integral to family organization and contact. You can’t simply choose to opt out.