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Hardcore digital detox – and why I don’t want any

While I’m hard core addicted to my smartphone

Why should smartphone addiction be such a huge problem? A story about balancing touch-screen-junkie behavior, conscious use of digital tech, and digital detox.

I very vocally advocate balanced use of digital technology

I have been fascinated by sci-fi, philosophy, and tech most of my life. It’s no coincidence my current station is that of content writer for one of the most innovative IT-consultancy companies in The Netherlands.

But as such, I have had the chance to look very closely and critically into the impact digital technology has on our lives. Both individually and as a society.

And the impact is huge.

The need for digital detox

Higher rates of depression and suicide in teens are apparently at least correlated with the rise of smartphone use. Obviously; more injuries and deaths from traffic accidents. But what’s more fundamental:

Distraction from what matters most

We are allowing our agency and our self-direction to be abducted. And this is not the first time in human history that we have, of course not — but the way digital technology facilitates distraction is certainly unprecedented.

Distraction from what really matters; whatever that is, for any one of us.

And the speed at which technological development is making it ever more enticing and frictionless to mindlessly engage with our daily digital interfaces, should be at least somewhat alarming.

This is especially relevant if you’re in the business of tech, or in marketing. Both in terms of caring for yourself and in caring about how customers engage with your products and services.

This is your (corporate social) responsibility.

I keep noticing that it’s hard for me to verbalize just why unbalanced, habitual (over)use of digital technology is such a big problem.

The point is: kids are literally drowning (in the US, Germany, The Netherlands and other places) in pools and at beaches because parents have a hard time looking up from their phones. And so on, and so forth. What. The. Hell.

Digital detox; offline Sunday

Inspired by other thinkers and writers – among them most notably Nir Eyal and Tristan Harris, I started thinking and writing my own thoughts about smart tech addiction. Some of them can be found here on Medium:

And others on my social channels, such as the following animated text video:

And some even — actually — reach people, and get them to talk to me, or ask me how my #OfflineSunday is doing. Hi, Wouter!

That’s great. I’m sometimes even a little bit ashamed – to be perceived as that whiney little douche I sometimes fear I can come across as – but mostly kind of proud to be recognized more and more as that advocate of more balanced and conscious use of technology.

There’s just one problem.

I am incredibly addicted to my phone

I have to – ashamedly – admit: I check my phone first thing in the morning. Because it’s practical. And I use it to play music or a mantra, under my pillow, when I go to bed.

I know. Highly dangerous and outright stupid in terms of avoiding smartphone addiction.

But it’s so damn practical.

What isn’t practical at all is how I check my phone something like 200 times a day, to see if I have any new notifications that just might slightly matter.

(That’s a huge step forward from mindlessly grabbing it a mean 2,617 times a day, if my previous usage came close to the average smartphone user in this study. What I did to change my habit? You can find it here.)

But I don’t want to go cold turkey on my smartphone addiction. I don’t want any hard core digital detox. Why? Because digital technology is not exactly the same as – what some people compare it to – smoking back in the 40’s and 50’s of the last century.

Digital technology has way more and more obvious advantages to our daily lives than smoking.

It’s more like…

Digital technology is like wallpaper

And it’s incredibly unpractical to not use wallpaper. Or wall paint. You get my drift.

We just need to make sure the way we use our digital devices and apps doesn’t come to resemble working with wallpaper or paint that has asbestos in it.

What’s more about wallpaper or wallpaint: once you get used to it, you rarely ever remember it’s there. Most of us don’t even really know why we got it or why people started using it in the first place.

But now that we’re here, how could we ever go back to cold, bare, stone walls – and I don’t mean as an option and to be hipster-cool: but as the only option ever?

The difference? As a society, you could say we’re addicted to wallpaper. But the big difference is we don’t spend much of our time awake stroking at wallpaper – foresaking real human contact with real people and other things that matter – like we do with our smartphones.

Hi, I’m Erwin. I am incredibly addicted to my smartphone. And chances are, if you think about it, so are you.

Here’s to balance.

I greatly value and thank you for your attention. I write about balanced and conscious use of digital tech and focus on what matters at the Life Beyond. You can read my debut novel, Face Value, for free here.

I’d love it if you would let me know how you valued this article, by clapping or in the comments below.

Finally, if you know anyone who you think this article might be valuable for, please share.

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by +369,832 people.

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Erwin Lima

Erwin Lima

429 Followers

Exploring and maximising human potential. I write about tech, marketing, writing, love, money, society; life. Find my newest book here: https://lifebeyond.one/