Oh my God! Can you believe it? The new iPhone 11 will be coming out in September. That is right around the corner. For some, that day cannot come any sooner. The ones that are counting down the days are like a child counting days to Christmas with anticipation that Santa brought them what they wanted. They will get exactly what they want because they have been good boys and girls. What they most likely will be getting is some incremental changes for several hundred dollars. The lines at the apple store will look synonymous with junkies in a methadone line waiting for their daily fix. I am not one of these people and I am not judging. I just call it the way that I see it. Our country is addicted to technology and that will not change anytime soon.
I have been a person in recovery from addiction for almost eighteen years. I am passionate and committed to battling addiction and creating change in our society. The reality is we are in the middle of an addiction crisis in this country. This crisis shows up in many forms such as drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, vape, food, video games, sex, and yes technology. This comes in the form of the internet, social media, and smartphones. Smartphones started to become popular in the year 2010. Today almost everyone seems to have one. Statistics show that 88% of children between the age of thirteen and seventeen own or have access to smartphones.
Technology companies original intention was to greatly improve our lives. They have accomplished their goal in an amazing way. I am grateful for what we can do today with a phone. Unfortunately, the creation of technology came along with some terrible side-effects. It is just like the medications that are advertised on television. The only difference is that technology companies have not warned us about all the terrible side-effects.
One of the side-effects is a human disconnection. Have you ever observed a family of four at a restaurant? There can be four people at a table and everyone is on their phone. They are not present and connected with one another. There is a minimal conversation going on. A 12-year-old daughter can have a broken heart and a sad face, and mom or dad will not even notice. Human beings have an emotional need for love and connection. Cell phones can be getting in the way of this.
Individually our phones enable us to disconnect from ourselves. Any particular addiction is nothing more than a pattern in our brain. It is an escape from the present moment. Many of us can use our phone screen as a way to detach ourselves from the present moment. Any addictive pattern will move us further and further away from our authentic self. This may seem innocuous to you, but you are not seeing how this pattern is affecting our youth. Becoming conditioned to look at a phone screen all the time changes our nervous system. We basically are paving the way for addiction to show up down the road. When we look at our phones we can be receiving instant gratification in many forms such as texts or social media. Our nervous system becomes accustomed to searching for that instant gratification. Smartphones could be the gateway drug to our vaping epidemic among our youth. One addiction will most likely lead to another until there is recovery.
Let’s look at how our addiction to our phones can affect our roads and highways. If we drive, we are basically responsible for a deadly weapon. Our phones can be very distracting. We can feel the pressure to reply to business or work. We can get wrapped up texting while the wheels on the car are moving. We can feel the need to turn on audible or post on Instagram. Some people even watch Youtube or take a selfie while driving. I personally set a boundary for myself to not do any of these things while the car is moving. I must stay in touch with the possible consequences and constantly use leverage on myself to not cross my own boundaries. Sometimes I fall short. I never want to wake up in a coma and find out that I am responsible for taking a life. My mission in life is to help save and change lives.
I don’t know about anybody else, but I am convinced that the traffic in the last several years is getting worse and worse. I do not think that the population is growing that much. My experience is that when the light goes green most people are still looking down at their phone. I seem to observe this almost every day. I believe that most people do not enjoy traffic. Let’s face it, time is one of our most valuable resources. I believe that most people have surrendered to the traffic so they join everyone else and look down at their phones at lights. The reason I believe this is because sometimes I am one of those dummies that can be holding up the traffic. For the grace of God there goes I. I stopped being angry about this because I understand that addiction is to blame. I must always strive to have an awareness of how my actions affect others.
We can all agree that technology improves our lives in many ways. We cannot function in today’s society without it. We can see that the creation of technology can have some side-effects. Once we have awareness, we can step into our personal power and take some action. As an addiction preventionist and recovery coach, I have some suggestions to treat the side effects of technology. Try putting yourself on a cell phone detox even if it is just for a couple of hours. Spend some of this time to connect to yourself through meditation, reading, connecting to nature, or just having fun. If you are eating with your family, make a rule such as cell phones off the table. If you have children, teach them the importance of not being attached to their phone. You might want to give them a time out period, but make sure you give them something that they will enjoy as an alternative. Don’t make phone detox seem like a punishment. You can use this time to connect with one another. Remember, you get to be source for their results.
If you feel that you are a distracted driver you can use leverage on yourself by playing the tape all the way through. Get in touch with the possible consequences of being distracted while driving. As soon as you feel like looking at your phone while driving, think about those consequences. Don’t let the ego tell you that you can drive effectively without focusing in front of you. When you constantly condition yourself to associate the possible consequences with the action, you will lose the desire to look at your phone while the car is moving. You are basically creating an interruption to the addictive pattern in your brain. Remember the key to getting your desired result is taking 100% responsibility to condition yourself consistently. Every time you do this it is important to replace the addictive pattern with a new pattern. If you use leverage on yourself and don’t pick up the phone acknowledge yourself by saying I didn’t pick up the phone because I love myself and care about others.
Let’s face it, we are not going back to flip phones. We will have to keep buying a new phone every few years because tech companies have designed their business model that way. It seems pretty obvious that they are going to only feed the technology a little at a time, and we will continually have to buy new phones. I believe that tech companies will become responsible for the side effects of technology soon enough. America is hooked on technology but we don’t have to become victims. You now have some tools to in your toolbox.