Heading down 5 North on the 76 bus, you look outside the window and see a woman driving as she holds a cell phone in one hand. Turn inward to the bus and see nine out of 10 people slouching and scrolling through their phones with laser focus. Draining battery life is hardly a cause for concern, but the life drained from these public spaces should alarm us.
Cell phones have changed the way we live forever. With the functionality of apps that improve productivity or save time, it makes sense to use our phones in stolen moments to accomplish important tasks that we would delay otherwise.
So what’s wrong with this? Why should we make the case to decrease our usage of these handheld best friends?
Quality of Life in the World of Technology
The over-use of cell phones just might be a health concern if they reduce our quality of life. We are the first generation with such a powerful apparatus. At most, we have laws to combat distracted driving and FCC regulations to reduce radiation emission from the device. Besides that, we’ve had the freedom to define cell phone culture since its inception. We have a President who tweets daily. Social media shares in real time now. We even speak in modern hieroglyphics, aka “emojis.”
Health is not just exercising and eating well. All the different ways in which we spend time factor into a healthy or unhealthy lifestyle. Therefore, if we want to improve our quality of life, we must be future-oriented thinkers. That includes taking what consistent research tells us today about cell phone use.
What Research Says about Too Much Cell Phone Usage
Research suggests smartphone addiction is a real neurological problem and we must treat it like other addictions. The Seattle Times recently published an article on cell phone addiction and its implication on physical and mental health. There is plenty of research out there that says cell phones kill creativity and conversation. Furthermore, our attention span reduces to mere seconds because of the brain’s need for the stimulation that cell phones offer.
Seattle is already good at improving quality of life. We live in a progressive place that recognizes the necessity of farmers, organic food and reducing the use of chemically harmful products. We can take the wisdom we put into processed foods and chemicals and use it toward the cell phone culture norm that stays up to date at all times and refuses to let the mind wander.
Control the Habit and Improve Quality of Life
We do not open ourselves up to the world if we stay more tuned into our gadgets than we do aware of our surroundings. We miss real experiences, the ones that truly satisfy us when we put our phone away. Furthermore, opportunities for kindness, interaction and novelty are lost. We run the risk of looking back at our younger years, not with fondness of divine memories, but as robotic time fillers that do not fill our emotional needs.
This is not a call for Seattle to lead the next Luddite reformation. The goal is expressed best by a quote from the movie adaptation of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Near the end of the film, Walter asks a famous photographer, Sean O’Connell, when he’s going to take a photo of a leopard that Sean focuses on through his camera lens a moment prior. O’Connell replies, “Sometimes I don’t. If I like a moment, for me, personally, I don’t like to have the distraction of the camera. I just want to stay… in it.”