The Simple Joy of "No Phones"

Weblog - November 13, 2018


“Every time someone in a group of people deploys a screen, the whole group is affected. Each disengaged person in a crowd is like a little black hole, a dead zone for social energy, radiating a noticeable field of apathy towards the rest of the room and what’s happening there.” - The Simple Joy of “No Phones” by David Cain

The rate of smartphone addiction is far more prevalent, and destructive compared to the new WHO (World Health Organization) “Video Game Addiction Disorder”, as a person who was incredibly addicted to their devices to post over a dozen (sometimes hundreds!) of times a day through my social media accounts for nearly a decade, I know first hand the emotional, physical, and mentally destructive turmoil of smart-device addiction and from the hundreds of conversations I’ve had from the average person, psychologists. professors, and user experience developers this is becoming far more prevalent, understood, and accepted - that a smartphone is a “little black hole, a dead zone for social energy, radiating a noticeable field of apathy towards the rest of the room and what’s happening there”.

I have noticed this effect myself - the moment someone begins to tune-out by using their device in a situation, the rest of the group at hand will begin to feel envious of using their own devices as if that minuscule action of one has been amplified to an eleven demanding that everyone in the vicinity join them in using their personal devices. This is similar to cigarette smoking, where if one person lights up - everyone must light up.

I imagine that in another decade or two we’ll look at 2010s-era device use something like we do now with cigarette smoking. I was born in 1980, and I remember smoking sections on planes, which is unthinkable today. I wonder if today’s kids will one day vaguely remember the brief, bizarre time when people didn’t think twice about lighting up a screen in the middle of a darkened concert hall.

In the future, I believe we will begin to have restaurants, concerts, parks, meetings and more begin banning smart-devices - and even begin implementing an automated NFC locking mechanisms that severely limit the interactions of the device (allowing emergency calls, cameras, etc) depending on the situation and the event. Regardless, socially I believe that the tide has already started heading this way - that we will begin phasing out smart devices in public settings.

There is nothing wrong with using your smartphones, enjoy them, use them, they are the greatest communication methods that our species has ever created and has helped create a world more of equality than ever before - but be wise in your usage, and attempt to limit when and where you use them not just for yourself, but for the world around you.

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