Recently I read a fabulous interview in the Globe and Mail (URL enclosed at the bottom of this blog) about society’s addiction to smart phones. Yes, it is a true addiction, no different than drugs. The designers and manufacturers of smart phones admit that, and the next question is what to do about it. It’s an excellent interview and I hope the article is still posted on the Globe website when you go to look for it.
As an investigative journalist, long ago I learned to “back track” the story back to its beginnings. It’s W5 in action; who, what, where, when and why, followed by the more important “how.” In the case of cellphone addiction, I pose a question not raised in this fabulous interview. Simply put, why are people so unhappy with reality that they want to spend so much time in a virtual (fake) reality called cyberspace? Is real life so boring that you need to revert to constant diversion to make your existence tolerable? How do we get people to revert to conscious awareness of the NOW instead of twiddling their lives away surfing the Net and playing games?
If the subject in question is addiction, why not add drugs, alcohol, obesity, fast food, and consumerism to the list? Looking mainly at the United States (although smart phone addiction and consumerism are a global problem) that country seems to be in a downward death spiral manifested in endless and mindless violence, mass murders on an unprecedented scale. Obesity stalks the land like a herd of marauding water buffalos. Fast food outlets spring up endlessly to assuage the constant need for instant gratification. Hundreds of thousands of people are dying from diabetes and drug overdoses. How in the world did the United States end up as such a pathetically unhappy culture? What can be done about it?
I believe the answer can be found in the American Constitution written by the founding fathers, in which the right to the “pursuit of happiness” was written into law. I haven’t read all the weekend papers yet today, never mind the U.S. Constitution, but I do know that happiness is not something you obtain by chasing it. Happiness comes from being, not doing. America is a ruthlessly ambitious nation, constantly chasing wealth and luxury in the pathetic belief that will make them happy, blind to the needs of the heart and soul. At one time Americans went to church, and now they go to the mall. The pursuit of happiness is found in endless purchases of handbags and shoes. Heaven is “Made in China,” and the more we buy the happier the Chinese get.
Personally I have owned a cellphone for a few years. I was convinced I had to have one so I could “keep in touch,” or so that people (my wife) could find me. It’s not a smart phone and neither am I smart because I have never learned to use it aside from answering a call, surfing for flight times or finding out what time it is when I wake up in Ecuador and my brain is still in Vancouver. I pay $40 a month for it to sit on my desk and have done so for several years. I think I have received about a dozen calls on it. After reading this article about phone addiction I am going to cancel my subscription. Not that I am addicted, because I never use it, but because I now realize I will never use it. I am totally focused on the NOW, addicted to conscious awareness, eyes wide open everywhere I go. Why this particular form of addiction? Simply put, I find the world to be a wonderful place and it makes me happy to live in it, and to not lock my head into cyberspace. Try it yourself. You might like it, and hey! It’s free. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/can-we-ever-kick-our-smartphone-addiction-jim-balsillie-and-norman-doidgediscuss/article37976255/