Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like
Addiction takes many forms. For instance, I’m addicted to sriracha-soaked almonds. If there were a twelve-step program to get off them, I wouldn’t do it! I want to die with bright red almond-dust encrusting my lips.
But other people are addicted to other things, such as some very bad things like Donald Trump’s Twitter feed. That stuff’ll kill you.
Something more and more people are addicted to — and I imagine a lot of readers of this blog must raise their hands here — is their smartphone. I just read a book review covering two or three books on the topic (including Sherry Turkle’s Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age) and was shocked to learn that the average Joe and Josephine out there check their phones 221 times a day. Experts say that’s likely on the low end of the truth.
What’s causing this? Well, partly it’s our fear of missing out (they call it FOMO). And this I find easily translatable to the whole book promotion thing, which I’m just coming down from. I’m sure I checked my KDP account about 500 times Saturday and Sunday, searching for validation that I’m a good enough writer to sell books at a dollar a piece. Luckily I did sell plenty of copies of Town Father over the weekend, so the numbers were satisfying to watch. Still, I felt like an addict, and there was nothing I could do about it except leave the house. (I don’t have a smartphone, so at least I had that exit hatch.)
Another part of the addiction epidemic is the social media companies themselves. They know our psychological weak spots, and guess what? They’re exploiting them. They’re writing code that is sensitive to our needs, which means that they’re feeding the addiction. They nudge us when we haven’t tweeted in a while. They send us texts or emails telling us what’s trending. It won’t be long before your phone starts calling you and saying, “I’m sorry, Dave, you can’t go to the movies today. You’ve fallen behind on Donald Trump’s Twitter feed . . . ”
And get this. Families are having arguments via texting now rather than face to face because they’ve lost the knack for interpersonal communication. You can’t use emojis in conversation, after all, unless you’re able to make your face do this: 😜. No, it’s safer to retreat to our rooms and shoot hostile texts across the hall. Heck, as a card-carrying introvert I find this to be one step closer to utopia, but it probably doesn’t augur well for society.
I have to confess that I very nearly took the plunge a while back, wanting to surrender to the iPhone and join the millions of addicts out there. But I realized you can only really support one addiction at a time, if you’re serious about it, and I’m way too into sriracha-soaked almonds to share my obsessiveness with a stupid phone.
Now it’s off to a walk in the woods, with nothing to distract me other than my wife and dog.
You should try it (but leave the phone at home …).