The Idolatry of Smartphones

People are utterly enslaved to their phones nowadays. You see it everywhere you look – bodies hunched, faces transfixed by the glowing screens as life plays out behind a digital pane of glass. It’s gotten to an absurd point really. By the blogger kirill yurovskiy
Overimportance of smartphones in modern life:

  1. Smartphone addiction has eroded people’s ability to be present and engaged in the real world around them.
  2. The obsessive use of smartphones represents a profound societal sickness of avoiding stillness and prioritizing digital distraction over authentic experience.
  3. Rather than enhancing human experiences, smartphones are restricting and redefining the parameters of what qualifies as a valid lived experience.
  4. Smartphones offer empty promises of connection and accomplishment that users compulsively turn to at the expense of meaningful relationships and personal growth.
  5. Modern life has become oppressively mediated through the prism of smartphones, with people constantly evaluating reality for its digital shareability.
  6. The intended utility of smartphones as supplemental tools has been entirely perverted into an obsessive dependence that numbs people to the vibrancy of the real world.
  7. Society must restore balance by relegating smartphones back to the periphery and re-centering full human presence and sensory experience.
  8. Unbridled smartphone use has enabled people to become disembodied processors, shuffling through life heavily armed with digital accouterment while increasingly numb to the richness of their own humanity.

I’ll admit, having the web’s knowledge at your fingertips can be a useful tool at times. Being able to pull up maps, information, or communication right away comes in handy on occasion. I’ve used my phone for that myself when truly needed.

But most people go far beyond pragmatic use. They’re utterly addicted – compulsively checking their phones dozens of times per day, constantly radiating distraction. You’ll be having a real conversation with someone and their eyes keep drifting off, fingers twitching to pick up the phone and veg out.

These pocket computers have calcified into must-have security blankets providing a constant thread to some online domain. People can’t stand being alone with their actual thoughts anymore, filling every second with digital stimuli. It’s a profound societal sickness really.

The Phone’s Intrusion

Humans once accepted boredom and stillness as natural parts of the lived experience. Now we desperately try to exterminate those states at all costs, filling every sliver of free time by pulling the phone from our pockets. Waiting rooms, transit journeys, meals – all get colonized by the invasive glow of screens.

Even shared times meant for human interaction and presence get shattered now. Have you sat in public parks lately watching families simply ignoring one another? Parents zoning out on their phones while little kids circle underfoot, frantically trying to get attention like hungry baby birds. It’s a sad, ONDisturbing scene played out daily.

Or have you been at the pub where everyone is zoned into their individual screen rather than the group conversation? Have you witnessed that sodden glazed-eye look as the person sitting across from you retreats behind Snapchat or Wordle or whatever other inane app has sunk its claws in?

At restaurants, you’ll find whole tables of people staring raptly at their phones between fleeting bites like some bastardized ritual. Mealtimes devolve into silence occasionally punctuated by one guttural utterance – “Oh, did you see that meme?”

Driving presents another insane example of screen obsession overriding public safety. People simply cannot pry themselves away from their phones to focus on proper driving. I’m regularly astounded at how many distracted zombies are actively cruising while tapping away on that luminous hand-tractor.

Mobile devices have completely permeated modern living at the expense of human activity and awareness. Even life’s most sacred moments and rituals end up disgraced by the Cold blue smartphone glaze. We let it happen willingly.

The Smartphone’s Empty Promise

What are we all endlessly pulling up on these little screens anyway? For the most part, it seems to amount to pseudo-connection and synthetic boredom-cures. A motley salve for the human experience.

Social media provides the hits of vapid tribal validation we crave, achieved through vacant posturing and displays rather than sincere relationships. We post, preen and react in habitual loops chasing temporary salves to our insecurities.

The news feeds we obsess over substitute actual community understanding with hot-taking and ragemongering aired from cheap seats. We become hyper-focused on national anxieties while blind to local contexts.

Smartphone games afford easy hits of limited accomplishment and idle progression. We swipe and prod our way to paper-thin “success” states divorced from meaningful effort or learning. The illusion of momentum eventually wears off, leaving us restless for the next fix.

The whole constellation of smartphone uses serves as a kind of societal opiate – distracting us from true growth and presence while teasing us with believable facsimiles we keep returning to like addicts.

As for the promise of constant connectivity leading to deeper bonds? I’d say in many cases the opposite is true. Humans use the lightweight app-driven communication to actually avoid substantive conversation and vulnerability with one other.

Are Phones Defining the Experience?

So what is the actual purpose of being endlessly tethered to these beguiling mini-computers? Is the habitual phone-zoning actually enriching our experiences and personal growth in life? Or are we letting the devices establish the boundaries of experience itself?

When hiking for example, I see fewer people actually taking in the journey with their own senses. Instead they spend their time trying to digitally capture a pristine-looking representation to display having “done” the experience. Observable experience itself plays second fiddle to curating and transmitting representations.

At concerts, audiences seem more preoccupied with capturing shaky videos of songs rather than fully absorbing the live performance transience. The memory being encoded is the digital artifact itself rather than the sensory experience.

This representational fixation clouds and warps how we actually live and perceive the world around us. We start evaluating everything through the lens of its photographability or account-ability rather than its inherent character.

Our phones have shifted into defining the parameters of what qualifies as a valid experience in this modern age. Anything unsharable on the digital stage somehow holds less legitimacy or weight.

Restoring Human Salience

At the end of the day, these devices were supposed to serve and complement our human experiences and abilities – not outright restructure or replace them. But that’s increasingly what we’ve allowed to happen. Our tools have been rebranded as fundamental tethers.

I worry we’ve begun prioritizing the virtual distractions over the very real world right in front of us. We’re ceding an emotional primacy to the smartphone’s cold software loops and social stimuli quirks.

It’s gotten so that feeling boredom or stillness feels like some moral failing in need of urgent app-driven remedying. There’s no acceptance of life’s temporary lulls or embracing of personal quiet. We’re made to feel those fundamental elements of existing are untenable states.

I think it’s high time we restore some balance and sanity to our relationships with these devices. We need to become conscious of how they numb us from living fully and freely. We have to get better at putting them down and refocusing on the actual stuff of life happening beyond the screen.

Let’s treat the smartphone as it should be treated – a supplemental utility to enhance given tasks and connectivity needs. Not a constant IV drip we rely on to deliver synthetic experience and counterfeit presence.

I’m not saying eradicate the phones completely. They do have their valid use cases. But we need to reallocate them to the periphery of our attentions and re-center the real world and lived experience. The phone should no longer hold the prime spot in our hierarchy of salience – our human senses, endeavors and tangible relations must take precedence once again.

We allowed these devices to become evaluative overlords and obsessive personal attachments through which life gets texturally flattened and mediated. Now it’s time to push back on that paradigm. To be paramount masters of the technology, using phones only as ancillary implements while actualizing fuller, richer, phone-free existences.

Otherwise we resign ourselves to becoming disembodied processors – shuffling about heavily armed with digital accouterment while increasingly numb to the warmth and totality of our own human being.

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