So, we’ve got through Day 1 and Day 2. Today is the third and final day of my smart phone addiction experiment. As I wake up, the first thing I do is open my laptop and check my emails. It seems that I’ve replaced checking my phone and social media with emails…
Goodbye social scrolling. Hello emails.
Thinking about it now, the last thing I did before I went to sleep was to check my emails. What was I looking for? I realise that it’s not the content of the emails I’m interested in, but that I am looking for some kind of connection with the outside world. Maybe I’m trying to regain control of my virtual self by being validated by emails which, in turn, would validate my actual self.
This brings up a very interesting question. What is the relation between the virtual world and the actual world? It seems that there has been a blurring of boundaries when it comes to the virtual world and the physical world. How much does our social presence inform other people’s opinions of us? These are themes that I would like to discuss when looking at social media and also Role Playing Games (RPG) in the future and how technology affects us.
What occurs to me now is the correlation with the Skinner Box Test. I seem to have developed a superstition when checking my emails. As soon as I wake up I must check my emails. It’s a compulsion, in the same way smart phone addiction is. Sometimes, there is one and sometimes there is none. However, I feel that by checking in the morning it is more likely that I will have one. In actuality when I check my emails has no correlation to if there is one there or not.
Of course, if I do not check I won’t know if the email is there or not. But I have become so accustomed to checking my phone for any texts, emails or social media alerts and now I’m replicating these behaviours. It has not only become a habit, but an emotional necessity for me to check in to my virtual space as soon as I wake up.
The pangs of anxiety are still occurring, but the feeling has changed from excitement to, dare I say it, dread.
Smart phone addiction followed by a sense of relief.
As the day goes on, I’m quite enjoying being unavailable at the tap of a button. Not having the anxiety of constantly checking my phone, not being able to see if X has text me or Y has emailed me.
It is a sense of relief to not have that constant burden with me. But I know that this will, soon enough, be a distant memory.
I think to myself do I really need a smartphone? Can I live without emails and social media and just have a regular mobile? (Notice here how there is no mention of giving up my phone altogether here).
I reminisce of a time before my original iPhone when I had a 3-day battery life and no social media on hand. It was an event coming home to check it.
While phones and social media are useful and important tools, when used correctly, this time without them has shown how I thought my phone was quelling my anxiety, but it was, in fact, exacerbating it. Enhancing my virtual reality, while I was missing out on physical lived experience (one not governed by technology.)
Despite these feelings of relief, when the clock finally struck 12, I hastily turned my phone on to see what I was missing out on.
9 texts messages (in which I missed one social event) nothing on Twitter and a couple of work messages on Facebook.
How much had I actually missed out on in those 3 days? Not a lot it seemed. But I had seen just how time-consuming and anxiety-provoking the presence of my phone has been in my life.
Thanks for coming on this journey with me! Read my afterthoughts on the experiment here.