My Phone is Frying my Brain and I’ve had Enough

Illustration by Rika Otsuka
By That Anxious Dude
May 9, 2020
· 5 min read
I

understand the benefits of having a phone, now more than ever. In the past couple of months my phone allowed me to stay in touch with family and friends all around the world, it allowed me to continue doing my job and to follow up on important news regarding the ever changing regulations in our daily existence...

My phone is the primary source of entertainment in these testy times.

I’ve had a good chuckle on account of countless ingenuous Corona memes. I made a couple of fantastic pictures during my solitary walks, pictures I’m still proud of. I’ve been watching Tiger King and The Last Dance in bed, dreaming afterwards about leading one of these eccentric lives that are so different from my own….

But in spite of all of these undeniable benefits, it’s been a while now since I’ve come to a dark, sobering realization – my phone is the first thing that I reach for when I wake up, and the last thing I see before I close my eyes at night.

The compulsion doesn’t end there.

Whenever I get a little bored, I reach for my phone. If I’m experiencing an uncomfortable sensation, I reach for my phone.  If I don’t know what to say during a conversation, I reach for my phone. If I begin to feel anxious, guess what… I reach for my  phone.

Just now, writing this very article, I’ve interrupted my train of thought at least six times, picking up my Android at random and scrolling mindlessly for a couple of seconds, before remembering I was actually trying to do something.

I would’ve been a complete scammer if I tried to pin all of this toxicity on the current predicament of our lockdown lives. Yes, it may have reached its peak now, but this harmful type of behaviour has been reinforced through years and years of stubborn wallowing in the muddy puddle of short-term gratification. I’m dreading having to spell this out, but running to the comfortable embrace of that glowing screen has become my principal method of dealing with problems.

What’s even more alarming is the fact that I noticed a sharp decline in my cognitive faculties, even in my ability to try and chill out without an intrusive “check the Gram NOW!” constantly pillaging my mind.

No fucking wonder – spending so much my time flashing in and out of the digital realm equals coaching oneself in anti-awareness; every time I compulsively pick up my phone, my thought process is cut short and my emotions are prevented from unfolding to their natural conclusion.

THIS IS THE EXACT OPPOSITE OF WHAT I REALLY WANT. MY GOAL IS NOT TO RUN AWAY, BUT TO EMBRACE WHAT I FEEL.

If I’m feeling sad, I want to allow myself to feel that way, without quickly scrambling into masking, postponing or evading. I firmly believe that the whole point of being a person is letting yourself experience the entire spectrum of human emotions. I want to see the sunset for what it is, without the ugly urge forcing me to take out my phone and quickly take a snap, attached to it.

It’s become obvious that the presence of a device that calls to me at all times is slowly conditioning my brain into becoming it’s  extension. I feel my mind reshaping itself to function better in brief flashes, getting quickly exhausted and fidgety when it’s required to stick to one task.

Instead of living in moments, life has become a flashing, broken stream of random stimuli.

I realise that my unhealthy attachment to my phone doesn’t stem from the addictive design of its technology alone. I’ve always been a susceptible person and I’ve often grappled with a short attention span.

A couple of years ago, when I was at my lowest and was barely able to leave the house, it was my phone that made me feel connected to the world (in hindsight, I also know that by acting as a perpetual safety blanket, it prolonged my recovery).

On the other hand, I’d be a downright idiot not to acknowledge the sophisticated engineering behind the entire attention economy. Let’s cut the bull – all of these technologies (from social media to apps and mobile games) were made to hijack our minds and keep us glued to the screen for as long as possible. Our attention has become a commodity, an object of trade, a source of profit for tech companies.

Some people say that technology can’t be good or bad, that it’s really up to how people end up using it. I wholeheartedly disagree with this statement. I’m sure some people use their guns to scratch their butts with, but that’s not what they were really made for. They were made to kill people. And wherever you might be living, the only thing you have to do is catch a random train and glance at the people inside, to see what these devices were made for – and how successful they are at kidnapping our lives.

The basic awareness of “we are all in this together” doesn’t make my struggle any easier. Quite the contrary – if anything, it makes it much harder. By cutting myself out of this collective habit everybody is participating in, I already know I’m going to deal with a heightened fear of missing out. I’m already anxious about the possibility that stripping my phone down to essentials and deleting my social media will play out like that painful scene of Neo being unplugged from the matrix.

BUT I’VE MADE A DECISION TO RECLAIM MY MIND, AND I’M STICKING BY IT. MORE THAN EVER BEFORE I’M AWARE OF THE FACT THAT MY TIME ON THIS PLANET IS LIMITED…

And I sure as shit don’t want to spend the rest of it sniffing dopamine dust off a tiny LCD screen.

H1 Reglar

at least until the cold rears its ugly head again, Berlin is turning itself into a series of endless open air festivals and parties.Our little hangout reflects this festive mood, at least on the outside. If you were just a random person walking by, you would have seen two mates comfortably sharing a bottle, drinking out of paper cups, chatting away and laughing. It would all look like an uplifting scene from a European indie film.

The truth however, is different. Laurie is my friend, yes, and what’s coming out of my mouth is real laughter, but the unpleasant feeling bouncing around my skull is one of deep discomfort. The truth is I’d rather be anywhere else right now. It’s not that anything bad happened between the two of us, like a pissing contest’s gone sour just moments ago… I’ve known Laurie for almost 5 years and during that time we’ve never even had as much as a disagreement.

H2 Capital

at least until the cold rears its ugly head again, Berlin is turning itself into a series of endless open air festivals and parties.

Our little hangout reflects this festive mood, at least on the outside.

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