The question you always need to ask.
I used to say that the arrival of the smart phone was the replacement of the cigarette. Another, near-universal, addictive thing everybody’s doing without really understanding the implications.
Except the comparison isn’t really accurate. A generation of young nicotine addicts won World War II. Men dangling, unsecured, from the crossbeams of skyscrapers worked to build a modern world while a tightly-packed roll of tobacco dangled from even more securely from their lips.
No, the cell phone is more like an addictive sedative. But it’s not really the phone. It’s the ingredients that’s killing us slowly. We all know at this point that the developers of this stuff struggle to limit their own children’s time with the devices they helped build.
But it’s really worse than that. In the 21st century it seems nearly everything that is gaining favor in the public and political square ends up slowing us down. Nicotine? Out. Marijuana? In, big time. Crack pipes provided by the government as a way to help? Sure, why not?
Even seemingly neutral things like our social media and communication convenience shapes us. The news we consume, the feeds we get, the notifications…they all mold us. At this point the question I ask myself is, “is the convenience worth the price?”
The price has been my own productivity. The cost has been an unbelievable amount of time my eyeballs have been looking at my thumb flick a screen. While I remember nearly nothing of the content in any meaningful way.
And yet, I know…it’s shaped me. And I keep going back.3