Do not use your phone in these places

The cost of Social Media and Mobile Technology

Photo by Benjamin Dada on Unsplash

There exist several arguments on how Social Media is causing Social Isolation (I laugh…what do you expect? Technology never exist in isolation and as a result has effects on our social interactions).

A more health-based school of thought argues that Social Media (an over-consumption of it) promotes psychological disorders, anxiety, poor self-image etc. this they claim is due to the addictive qualities and patterns of use¹.

A Social perspective to it argues that Social Media is actually harming people’s ability to interact competently in an offline setting². Research has shown that a whooping 93% of normal conversations come from non-verbal cues (55% body language, 38% tone of voice); even as, Philip Yaffe points out that this doesn’t refer to Speeches. And we know that although Social Media / Texting is trying to represent tone of voice with CAPS and body language with emoticons, it cannot replace face-to-face communication in that regard.

Also, always being connected to our devices might make us miss out on defining moments in our lives.

Multimedia Engineer focused on Human-Computer-Interaction, Hector L. Carral (2015), argues this differently by saying “It all boils down to letting people connect freely using the medium they feel the most comfortable with at the moment” ³. He bases his argument on the fact that Social Media provides us relatively faster and easier ways to communicate.

In this post, I am not trying to argue for or against, I just want to show us times when we could “receive/generate” ideas if we weren’t addicted to “the phone”.

How does addiction works?

The way it works is such that dopamine gets fired into our system once it senses (through Pavlovian cues — like app notifications) that we are about to get a reward (whatever gives us pleasure).

Now, there is something called a Dopamine Loop; where, once we get that pleasure in limited supply after some time the activity (alcohol, Social Media Timelines) doesn’t give us so much pleasure as before — our system has developed a tolerance for it. Hence, we go for higher measures of that thing, in order for us to feel very pleased again, after a while our system develops tolerance for it again; we go for more and more and more until something causes us to break out of the loop (e.g. a scheduled activity, a yell from your mum etc.)…the cycle continues.

You wonder why when you intend to spend just 5 minutes on Twitter you end up spending like an hour or 30 minutes? — dopamine loops. Now, that I think about it, I think this might be one of the reasons some of us don’t like to go out; we get so comfortable scrolling through Twitter, Instagram and Snaps. Such that, we are resistant to anything that might break the loop (like having to look for cloth to wear, going to take a shower, standing from the bed etc.).

How come I don’t have ideas?

Stephen Johnson, Ted Speaker and Author, Where do good ideas come from? argues that they come from the connected mind. Where an hunch from someone being mixed with a hunch from another, over a period of nurturing births innovation. He illustrated with the invention of the world-wide-web which came into being about 10 years after it was first conceived by Tim-Berners Lee.

There exist other explanations as to where ideas come from. But, a recurring theme is the fact that

Ideas are formed based off a collision of experiences, education, societal influence and of course, a spate of luck.

Let us dwell a bit on that “spate of luck”. The Oxford Dictionary used by Google defines Luck as

Success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions.

Ever heard of Shower Thoughts?

Showerthought is a loose term that applies to any thought you might have while carrying out a routine task like showering, driving, or daydreaming (Reddit).

There is a full subreddit that contains shower thoughts.

I made this out of Buddy’s Shower Thought — submitted just yesterday

Other Shower Thoughts include;

No one uses the phrase “I’m serious” more than comedians — by jarjarbinks129
The best part of waking up is taking a huge pee and going back to bed — erkwad153
You like?

The metaphorical shower has been credited to producing some of the world’s greatest ideas, dumb thoughts; stupid things (Remember, Napoleon’s thought are things). One reason why this happens is because the mind is free from all the worries, troubles and bustles of life, like a Phone :) .

Surprisingly, this addiction to Social Media (and a connected world) has led people into ‘killing’ their chances towards coming up with great ideas. As some people now take their phones into the bathroom (I am guilty as charged! *covers face*).

Recommendation — leave your phones out of short-stay activities

Here is my recommendation for the times when you should not take your phone with you in order to give yourself a chance to think ‘Shower Thoughts’ i.e come up with brilliant (no)things.

The notion that we are leaving in a fast-paced world (you know, that need to always be productive, which to some people means carrying their phones to the bathroom, making use of it on a queue etc) might be doing more harm than good (causing psychological, social and physical ailments such as stress and anxiety). Also, we can help heal stress and anxiety if we engage in ecotherapy such as; petting a cat/dog, touching and smelling trees, listening to the sound of the wind, long-walks at a beach etc. Please, don’t bring your phones on such trips (at least turn of the notifications and enjoy this)!

According to the definition given by Reddit about what Shower Thoughts are, it includes thoughts that come from Routine task. Such as;

  • Driving: 64% of all road accidents in the US have cell phones involved. You are more likely to get in an accident (6x) by Text Driving over Drunk Driving (they are both addictions, you know?). Need I say more?
  • Queues: There is this tendency to always carry an ear-piece while going out; infact, some people can’t leave their houses without their ear pieces (citation needed). But, from my personal experience, I do this mainly as a back-up plan, just-in-case I find no one to talk to.
Some of the persons on that queue need to read this :)
  • Using the Bathroom: Let’s assume the bathroom means the toilet and bath-tub. As you can see in the poll above, I am not the only one who takes a phone into the bathroom. But lowkey, if we are to take the definition of shower thought literally, that is where the shower is! LOL. But really, trying to save time by using your phone in the bathroom (toilet) is a waste of time. See:
  • Cooking and dish-washing: You know how we’d be frying something in the kitchen and then we would hear *thom!* signifying a notification. The we’d now rush to clean our hands either on our napkin then operate our touchscreen phone. Don’t you think that is even harming the screen? Asides that, tendency that the food gets burnt or we miss out on a timing; or in a rush we carelessly slam the phone on the slab…a myriad of things could happen :( . Please, can we leave out our phones from the Kitchen?
  • Eating (Dinners): Quite glad that a lot of persons are now talking about why we shouldn’t take our phones to dinners and social eat-in/out events. From TheBBC, DailyMail, TheWashingtonPost etc. Many people feel like it’s okay to eat and operate our phone(including me), I mean, we are “multi-tasking” but just like the scenario about using the phone in the toilet; we actually get slowed down. Also, US researchers found a link between multitasking between screens (e.g TV) while posting on Social media might be a sign of depression. Please, let us savour the taste of our food while being mindful not to put hair in our mouth.
This post was updated on the 24th January, 2017 to accommodate Meetings and Classroom-setting
  • Meetings: In a Forbes article published in December 2013¹¹, Kevin Kruse cites a research carried out by the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, where they state that using of phones in meetings annoy both bosses and colleagues. One of the major findings which he highlights in his article is the fact that out of the 554 full-time working professional employed by companies with at least 50 employees; greater than 22% think it’s inappropriate to use phones during any meetings. While, 86% think it’s inappropriate to answer phone calls during formal meetings. If you don’t want to be perceived as rude; don’t bring your phones to meetings (at least, put it on no-vibration, silent-mode).
Person facing a phone during an informal interview
  • Classroom-setting: Lola Okolosie, in The Guardian, argues that asides the disruption caused by phones, the presence of phones in the classroom reinforce inequality¹². And I agree with her, because, by the time you see your classmate using iPhone8 (I know, but trust me some people are that wealthy, LOL) you’d be feeling sad about your Infinix Hot Note (exactly, some of you don’t even know that exists). From a point of concentration; taking quick glances at your phone during an intense session is distracting to the lecturer who is probably wondering why this student is checking her phone while I am here sweating it out. Also, to the student, you are easily lured into a dopamin loop (refer to what we talked about above) and if you manage to break out of it, you’d have missed a connecting piece of information. Making you struggle to catch up with the last thing he said. Please turn your notifications off, keep your phone in your bag and once you are out of the classroom you can bring out. I am currently practicing this art of putting away my phone in the classroom. Although, I must admit that during “boring” lectures it takes a lot more discipline.

These are all good examples of the times where I feel we can leave out our phones so we can;

  1. Make ‘meaningful’ connections with our environs including the people
  2. Have shower thoughts