Opening Fact: 95% of 211 respondents claim they have carried their phones to the bathroom at least once.
There exists several arguments as to how Social Media is causing Social Isolation (I laugh hysterically…what do you expect? Technology never exists in isolation it always has an effect on our social interactions going forward).
A Medical school of thought argues that Social Media (an over-consumption of it) promotes psychological disorders; anxiety, poor self-image etc. This they claim is due to the addictive qualities and patterns of use¹.
A Social perspective to it argues that Social Media is actually harming people’s ability to interact competently in an offline setting². Research has shown that 93% of normal conversations come from non-verbal cues (55% body language, 38% tone of voice); even as Philip Yaffe points out that this doesn’t refer to Speeches. And we know that although Social Media / Texting is trying to represent the tone of voice with CAPITALIZATION (which usually means to shout) and body language with emojis, it still cannot replace face-to-face communication in that regard.
Also, always being connected to our devices could make us miss out on defining moments in our lives. Even though the probabilities are low, there is still a probability.
Multimedia Engineer focused on Human-Computer-Interaction, Hector L. Carral (2015), argues this differently by saying “It all boils down to letting people connect freely using the medium they feel the most comfortable with at the moment”³. The basis of his argument is the fact that Social Media provides us relatively faster and easier ways to communicate.
In this post, I am not trying to argue for or against, I just want to show us times when we could “receive/generate” ideas if we weren’t addicted to “the phone”.
How does addiction work?
The way it works is such that dopamine gets fired into our system once it senses (through Pavlovian cues — like app notifications) that we are about to get a reward (whatever gives us pleasure)⁴.
Now, there is something called a Dopamine Loop; where, once we get that pleasure in limited supply after some time the activity (alcohol, Social Media Timelines) doesn’t give us so much pleasure as before — our system has developed a tolerance for it. Hence, we go for higher measures of that thing, in order for us to feel very pleased again, after a while our system develops tolerance for it again; we go for more and more and more until something causes us to break out of the loop (e.g. a scheduled activity, a yell from your mum etc.)…the cycle continues.
You wonder why when you intend to spend just 5 minutes on Twitter you end up spending like an hour or 30 minutes? — dopamine loops. Now, that I think about it, I think this might be one of the reasons some of us don’t like to go out; we get so comfortable scrolling through Twitter, Instagram and Snaps. Such that, we are resistant to anything that might break the loop (like having to look for cloth to wear, going to take a shower, standing from the bed etc.).
How come I don’t have ideas?
Stephen Johnson, Ted Speaker and Author, “Where do good ideas come from?” argues that they come from the connected mind. Where a hunch from someone being mixed with a hunch from another, over a period of nurturing births innovation⁵. He illustrated with the invention of the world-wide-web which came into being about 10 years after it was first conceived by Tim-Berners Lee.
There exist other explanations as to where ideas come from. But, a recurring theme is the fact that
Ideas are formed based off a collision of experiences, education, societal influence and of course, a spate of luck.
Let us dwell a bit on that “spate of luck”. The Oxford Dictionary used by Google defines LUCK as
Success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions.
Ever heard of Shower Thoughts?
Showerthought is a loose term that applies to any thought you might have while carrying out a routine task like showering, driving, or daydreaming (Reddit).
There is a full sub-reddit that contains shower thoughts⁶.
Shower Thoughts include;
No one uses the phrase “I’m serious” more than comedians — by jarjarbinks129
The best part of waking up is taking a huge pee and going back to bed — erkwad153
The metaphorical shower has been credited with producing some of the world’s greatest ideas, numb thoughts; stupid things (Remember, Napoleon’s thought are things). One reason why this happens is because the mind is free from all the worries, troubles and bustles of life, like a Phone :).
Surprisingly, this addiction to Social Media (and a connected world) has led people into killing their chances towards coming up with great ideas. As some people now, take their phones into the bathroom (I am guilty as charged! covers face).
Recommendation — leave your phones out of short-stay activities
Here is my recommendation for times when you should not take your phone with you in order to give yourself a chance to think ‘Shower Thoughts’ i.e come up with brilliant things.
The notion that we are leaving in a fast-paced world (you know, that need to always be productive, which to some people means carrying their phones to the bathroom, making use of it on a queue etc) might be doing more harm than good (causing psychological, social and physical ailments such as stress and anxiety)⁷. Also, we can help heal stress and anxiety if we engage in ecotherapy such as; petting a cat/dog, touching and smelling trees, listening to the sound of the wind, long walks on a beach etc. Please, don’t bring your phones on such trips (at least turn off the notifications and enjoy this)!
According to the definition given by Reddit about what Shower Thoughts are, it includes thoughts that come from a Routine task. Such as;
- Driving: 64% of all road accidents in the US have cell phones involved⁸. You are more likely to get in an accident (6x) by Text Driving over Drunk Driving (they are both addictions, you know?)⁹.
- Queues: There is this tendency to always carry an earpiece while going out; in fact, some people can’t leave their houses without their ear pieces (citation needed). But, from my personal experience, I do this mainly as a backup plan, just-in-case I find no one to talk to.
- Using the Bathroom: Let’s assume the bathroom means the toilet and bathtub. As you can see in the poll above, I am not the only one who takes a phone into the bathroom. But low-key, if we are to take the definition of shower thought literally, that is where the shower is! LOL. But really, trying to save time by using your phone in the bathroom (toilet) is a waste of time.
- Cooking and dishwashing: You know how we’d be frying something in the kitchen and then we would hear *thom!* signifying a notification. We’d now rush to clean our hands in order for us to be able to operate our touchscreen phones at that instance. Don’t you think that is even harming the screen? Asides that, the tendency that the food could get burnt or we miss out on a timing to add an ingredient; or in a rush, we carelessly slam the phone on the slab, what if the phone catches fire?…a myriad of things could happen :(. Please, can we leave out our phones from the Kitchen?
- Eating (Dinners): Quite glad that a lot of persons are now talking about why we shouldn’t take our phones to dinners and social eat-in/out events. From TheBBC, DailyMail, TheWashingtonPost etc. Many people feel like it’s okay to eat and operate our phone(including me), I mean, we are “multi-tasking” but just like the scenario about using the phone in the toilet; we actually get slowed down. Also, US researchers found a link between multitasking between screens (e.g TV) while posting on Social media might be a sign of depression. Please, let us savour the taste of our food while being mindful not to put hair in our mouth.
These are all good examples of the times where I feel we can leave out our phones so we can;
- Make ‘meaningful’ connections with our environs including the people
- Have shower thoughts
Whoa! that was quite a read. Thanks for getting up to this point in my post. If we don’t mind, can we make an effort to stay away from our phones as advised for just 3 days? I like to know if it would significantly improve our thinking, social interactions and the perception of self. Would be expecting your feedback on Saturday, 21st January in the comment section. Thanks!
You can get a more comprehensive read (with more graphics and examples), here.
¹ Castillo, Stephanie (2015), The Adverse Effects Of Social Media: Talkspace Brings Attention To How Overuse Can Harm Mental Health.
² Jones, Haley (2013), Social Media’s Affect on Human Interaction.
³ Carral, Hector L. (2015), Stop Saying Technology is causing Social Isolation.
⁴ Weinschenk, Susan (2012), Brain WiseWhy We’re All Addicted to Texts, Twitter and Google.
⁵ Johnson, Stepehen (2010), Where good ideas come from.
⁶ (sub) Reddit, Shower Thoughts.
⁷ Buzzell, Linda (2009), Slow Down: How Our Fast-Paced World Is Making Us Sick.
⁸’⁹ Ameen, Luke (2016), The 25 Scariest Texting and Driving Accident Statistics.
¹⁰ Bevan, Kate (2012), Multitasking while watching television is linked to depression and social anxiety.