Opening Insights: A Brain Prosthetic
The dirty little secret that nobody likes to talk about
is that things just might have been better before the Internet.
We had more time to ourselves before cell phones and text messaging
and Facebook consumed our lives.
The smartphone is a revolutionary lifestyle companion that has unlocked the power of personal computing and the internet in the palm of your hand. It goes anywhere you go. It can send text messages and function as a camera, a GPS navigation unit, an alarm clock, a controller for your drone, a video game platform, a movie-player, a phone book, a digital wallet and as endless other functions.
They can even make plain old phone calls, to other phones.
Most smartphones can be configured as a voice-activated digital assistant, taking down your appointments and reminding you of important dates, including your anniversary. It is the principle portal into social media for most users and the principle means by which we remain connected to our fellow humans.
That all sounds really good, right? How wonderful it is, this thing called a smartphone. How did we ever manage to live without them?
Well, it turns out that we did just fine before the smartphone. In fact, many behavioral researchers are beginning to see that we were better off before. The article that follows presents the question, do we need to change how we interact with our smartphones?
Informational Insights: A Bold Experiment
The following article was published by CBS New York, a CBS Broadcasting local news station out of New York. It was transcripted from a report by Carolyn Gusoff, on-air reporter for WCBS-TV and New York Times best-selling author.
GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – They survived!
Nearly two dozen Adelphi University students made it a full week without their cell phones!
As CBS2 first told you last week, it was part of a college course intended to break the powerful addiction of smartphones.
CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff went back on Thursday as students were reunited with their beloved mobile devices.
It’s old school in Jacob Dannenberg’s dorm room – with an alarm clock to wake him.
Handwritten notes remind him an actual wristwatch to keep track of time.
No it wasn’t 1999, it was an Adelphi University course called “Life Unplugged.” where students did the unthinkable one week ago – handed over their smartphones.
“I’m freaking out, I could probably cry right now,” one student said.
It was a bold experiment to recognize today’s compulsive relationships with ever present devices.
Seven days later, “who’s excited they’re getting their phones back today?” Professor Donna Freitas asked.
Gone were the nerves and the shakes.
“Everything is perfect right now. I’m having a lot better relationships… it’s a stress free environment no pressure about social media,” Jacob Dannenberg said.
“I think it’s really refreshing and relaxing… I was able to fall asleep a lot easier,” student Adrianna Cigliano.
They managed to find their way, even without GPS for a week.
“I just had to take the same route everywhere,” one student joked.
They were also more productive.
“Doing homework was 100 percent easier. I got it done faster, I was in the zone,” Cigliano said.
Prof. Freitas says it’s important for everyone to assess their addiction.
“Are the conveniences worth it because the drawback are pretty significant,” Freitas said.
“The fact that no one can focus, that my students can’t sleep… They feel bad about themselves because of social media, the list goes on and on.”
The sweet reunions went sour quickly as endless notifications piled up.
“Oh my God this is so bad!… I just want to shut it off now!” the Adelphi class said.
Students say they’re not quite breaking up with their phones, but promise the relationship will change.
“I want to keep that balance and figure out the healthy relationship that we deserve to have with our phones,” Cigliano added.
“My screen time is definitely going to go down and I’m going start to appreciate my surroundings more because usually I’m looking at my screen all the time,” Ashley Castillero said.
Students told CBS2 they look forward to living more in the moment, with their heads up more often, notifications off, and the “do not disturb” on.
Students were allowed to use a desktop computer or laptop during the experiment. They also made emergency communication plans with family.
This article originally appeared in CBS NEW YORK: ‘It’s Really Refreshing And Relaxing’: College Students Say Ditching Their Smartphones For A Week Changed Their Lives
Possibilities of Consideration: Unplug to Live in the World
Before smartphones, WE were smarter. We didn't need a brain prosthetic to perform everyday tasks. Before smartphones people could remember things, like addresses, birthdays and phone numbers. They could remember to call their parents once in a while. They could unplug and enjoy the act of existing, rather than being constantly carried away by their device.
As it's such an incredible tools, perhaps the direction of our use of the smartphone should be one of Self-Authority, Self-Responsibility and Self-Accountability. Rather than bending to the will of those who design programs and features for your digital lifestyle companion make the decisions to take charge of your own existence. You may find that you've left the real world behind, and rather than occasionally visiting, it would be nice to live there.
However, the question remains, could we put it down if we wanted to? For many, the answer could be very frightening. As it is with any other addiction, select cases of smartphone usage must be met with understanding, care and the proper learning program. Technology isn't going anywhere. It is people who must learn to responsibly coexist with it.
Add Your Insight
Take a moment and examine…
- As you reviewed the material above, what stood out to you?
- What is the potential impact, economically and/or socially?
- What action is needed to stop or support this idea?
- You may want to consider whether you:
- want to be aware of,
- should become supportive of,
- would want to be active in this topic?
I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply.
Being willing is not enough; we must do.
LEONARDO DA VINCI