Our screen addiction, a state of hypnosis?
Screens are omnipresent in our daily life, from the moment we awaken, our head still on our pillow, until the moment our phone falls down on our face after a day working on our computer! We all know that! But why do we stay stuck to those screens 24h/7? Can we speak about a sort of hypnosis?
First, we should study what the place of those screens is in our life. According to a Nelsien’s study, Americans spend around 11 hours per day in front of electronic media: smartphones, computers, video games and other devices … Which is HUGE. On average one family possesses around 6,1 screens at home. So yes, technology is truly integrated into our life. We can hardly imagine live without these things. But why?
There are many different reasons. First, technology is central in our society, this is our way of communicating, and if we don’t pay attention to it we may miss something big, so we better stay connected.
But do we necessarily need to check our phone one hundred times per day? Of course not. We do it as an automatism, a reflex, and this becomes an unconscious movement. Sometimes, we even feel our phone vibrates in our pocket even if it is just our imagination. Even just the light of our phone attracts us as it would attract mosquitos!
This is a result of the FOMO’s syndrome (Fear of Missing Out). It refers to the apprehension that one is out of touch with some social events, experiences, and interactions. As a result, we check our notifications every ten minutes without even being conscious of it. Often, people don’t even have conscious of their problem, and that is what makes it interesting
But it still doesn’t explain why we are so addicted. One could think, “ You know it’s just a way to stop thinking about stressful stuff, after a day of work, watching TV or surfing on the internet is relaxing, that’s why I do it.”
But the reason goes much deeper. As drugs, love and sugar, social media delivers some dopamine to our brain that activates the reward system each time we receive a notification. Moreover, on social media everything is made to make us stay. Traveling from a link to another, scrolling forever and a day has a hypnotic effect on the brain that makes us stop thinking. This is how we can stay on social media several hours without even noticing it.
BUT WHAT IS HYPNOSIS?
The hypnosis state is what we call a modified state of consciousness. It means that the person who is experiencing it has a different way of perceiving himself, his environment, his feelings and his identity. Our consciousness also stops stimulating our thoughts and we can just let our mind go. We experience that everyday, in the car, at work or in the shower half asleep when we spent 40 minutes in there and then end up late for work!
And this is exactly what screens do, while we are watching TV or scrolling on the Internet, we turn our intellect off! It acts as an anesthesia of which we become dependent of pretty quickly. It systematically cut us off from our thoughts and the continual flow of images interrupts and prevents on communication and reflection.
BUT HOW DO SCREENS HYPNOTISE US?
There are several keys to being hypnotized. First, the attention of the subject has to be fully caught so the person does not think about something else. So what the media does is saturate people’s mind with data that has an unlimited range of content accessible at anytime, anywhere. Then, the second key is to put that person in a cycle where they don’t need to think anymore, they are driven by anything (a TimeLine, a Carousel, or automatic launch for videos). And then, it defines an anchor to make people go and come back from this hypnotic state; you guessed it, this is the notification.
We can relate the addiction of screens to the hypnosis state because it cuts off thoughts and therefore, puts us in a kind of unconscious state where the only stimulation comes from the screen and not reality. This is the modified state of consciousness. The next question is, do they influence our behavior?