WHAT THE HELL

Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

The sauce of all our problems

sriracha

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 …).

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14 comments on “The sauce of all our problems

  1. LionAroundWriting
    February 16, 2016

    Almonds…the unspoken scourge…lol
    It is amazing how hooked into the internet/phones we are, but there’s endless info on it, so it’s the never ending fairground ride. I can’t get off it!

    • Kevin Brennan
      February 16, 2016

      I’m glad I resisted temptation! There are plenty of things competing for my addictive tendencies … 😜

  2. kingmidget
    February 16, 2016

    We were having solar installed at our house last week. The first day was all about upgrading our electrical panel to handle the load. My wife stayed home for that — which meant being home with no power, which meant no wi-fi. I had originally planned on being home that day but things changed. I was really looking forward to a disconnected day. She texted me to complain when she realized what this all meant. I texted back: Imagine the possibility that a world without wi-fi might actually be a better place. Her response: No, cuz I can’t get on my tablet. My response: OK. Imagine a world in which entertainment and activities aren’t dependent on technology. Such a world existed only a few years ago. It was a better world. No response back.

    I have a smart phone. Yes, I do. And there are a few things I do with it, but mostly what it is is a crutch for when I have down time and nothing to do. But it’s that kind of thing that is killing social interaction and real connections. I’m an introvert, so I’m not a likely candidate to strike up a conversation with a stranger. Having phones between us makes it even more unlikely. I’m convinced that smartphones are fundamentally altering the way we live, destroying our humanity, and we’ll look back in a few years (if we’re not already) and see how screwed up we’ve become.

    I have to have a smart phone for work. My hope is that when I retire and no longer need a work phone that I will also find a way to minimize if not eliminate my “need” for a personal phone as well. I’m sure I’ll get an outcry from people, but we’ll see.

    • Kevin Brennan
      February 16, 2016

      It’s so weird to think that the whole phone phenomenon is so new, yet society has adopted it full-throttle. It’s definitely scratching an itch.

      But you’re right: it really was better before. Time was more easily managed. You could actually get away. And you didn’t care what total strangers thought of you.

      Can’t we go back? Huh? Can’t we?!

      • kingmidget
        February 16, 2016

        Completely agree with how quickly this all happened and it’s like it happened without question or challenge.

        I wish I could get my family to recognize how the phones are shortchanging them in their life experiences.

  3. islandeditions
    February 16, 2016

    We have a Sriracha t-shirt …

  4. John W. Howell
    February 16, 2016

    Love almonds. My phone? Not so much.

  5. Adrienne Morris
    February 17, 2016

    The Onion had a great skit about an anorexic showing how to eat a telephone –no calories!

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This entry was posted on February 16, 2016 by in Et alia and tagged .
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