Deep Thoughts

Your phone is not trying to kill you

Well not intentionally anyway……

Everywhere I look, all I see and hear are articles demonising technology, with a particular focus on smartphones.

Just the other day I was reading this article and while I agree that some of us need to evaluate our relationship with technology. Broad sweeping generalisations of phones being pure evil, more addictive than some drugs in cases are somewhat misplaced in my opinion.

This particular article prompted me to share the post below on my own social media channels to see where the world was on this topic.

“Although I don’t agree with all the oversimplified points in this article or it’s somewhat click baitey headline, it is clear that parts of our society are being affected in a negative way by technology.

However this is not the fault of technology and your phone is not on a mission to kill you!

For me all of this is a behavioural issue, one which I feel can be changed by having intent in your use with your phone. If you set the intention for each experience (I know this is tough for many) and stick to this, your experience could be far more positive.

Let’s not forget that these tiny little devices are also a great leap of innovation and provide us with many positive experiences too.

Yes, some people have an addiction to technology, specifically their phones but phones are not bad, they aren’t on a personal mission to kill you – it’s all about your intent and the relationship you build with that device.

So instead of demonizing phones and technology all the time, should we not look inwards more and to our own behaviours which have led us to create these experiences?”

The response was interesting.

I find people will blame anything external to justify something that isn’t working internally. When I questioned whether technology was the issue here or whether it really was a deeper behaviour flaw of the user – people weren’t sure how that made them feel.

If these forms of media were to be truly believed, you would think that we have been invaded by some alien force and strong armed into submission. 

Yet is technology really to blame for all our problems or are we covering up a bigger issue?

Let’s step back to take a logical view of our currently labelled tech addiction crisis and unpack where the real issue lies, first off – our phones are not trying to kill us! let’s be clear about that. They are not holding regular meetups to devise how to enslave the human race, we are doing this all on our own pretty well.

Despite what the never ending hoard of click baitey articles will have you believe.

If we take a closer look to why parts of society are experiencing a wave of smartphone addiction, it’s all rooted in our internal behaviours and the relationships we build not only with those little devices, but in real life too.

The behaviours we choose to indulge are what cause us to have a positive or negative experience with anything.

For example, Instagram like most social apps can be quite addictive and of course we now know more than ever about how these types of apps are specifically designed to hooks us in by playing to the ever appealing dopamine hits we crave. Yet regardless in the app itself having the potential to grab our attention for too long, we all have an opportunity to make a choice before we even touch our device to open that little slice of heroin.

You see, we have the choice in allowing an app or service to control our time and focus. It’s not as if it’s jumping out of your phone, grabbing your hand and forcing you to use it.

No, we make that first move, and that’s the real problem right? Our behaviour.

With all this talk of addiction and what seems to be all the world’s problems constantly blamed on technology and social media, we seem to forget just how amazing these little devices really are. 

They are an example of remarkable human innovation that has helped many people and enables many more to have lots of positive experiences that did not exist a mere decade ago.

We can do what now…

We have the ability to do so many amazing things these days. Just think about some of the innovations that have made life easier, such as:

  • Finding your way anywhere in the world with google maps
  • Connecting with loved ones, anytime, anywhere through voice, text or video.
  • Real time updates on weather – being British I love this of course
  • Calling on the power of peer reviews to find the best restaurant in town for your evenings dining experience.
  • Meditation companions
  • Digital jukeboxes with access to the best music our world has to offer
  • Access to immediate medical help through the power of location tracking

And the list goes on…..

Smartphones are much more than just host platforms for your favourite social apps, but we seem to have forgotten this.

Demonising technology is like saying a golf club is evil because you could kill someone with it, yet we hope you won’t. This is what brings me to intent, you see everything we interact with has the potential to be good or bad, it just depends on how we use it.

We are so quick to blame technology or anything else for our behaviour, that we point blank divert from looking inside ourselves to understand what has driven us to make the choices we have in our relationship with technology. It feels all so simple to not admit and explore the emotional triggers that sit inside us which drives us to grab our phone, it’s much easier to blame every tech company and say that they made you do it.

Like I said earlier, we are all aware how apps and most devices in general are now designed to tap into our behavioural patterns. However this does not mean that we do not have control, that we do not have a choice, because we do.

Until we take responsibility and understand that we take that first step in choosing to start an experience with a device, then we’ll never break free from it’s hold.

So what am I getting at?

Well, a few things really.

Your phone is not evil and it does not force you to do stuff. Unless you plan on convincing everyone that a phone made you do it (which I highly wouldn’t recommend) than you might want to think about how you choose to engage with that oh so delicious piece of tech at the end of your hand.

I feel that smartphones and of course technology in general have made our lives better, safer and will allow us to probably be healthier at some stage too. But they’ll only be able to enable us on the health front if we confront the fact that it is our current behavioural patterns which cause our tech addiction and not the tech itself.

Now yes, I imagine some of you reading this will say – but they make these things to be addictive and tempting. That I don’t disagree with, but we all have a choice you know. We have a choice in the relationship we build with our tech.

We can choose to use our devices to be enabled and connected or we can choose a not so healthy experience. Our behaviour, our desires, our need for connection, attention and instant gratification are what has caused the rise in tech addiction – not the devices themselves.

Despite what mass media tells us, not every person the world over is plugged into Instagram or Twitter 24/7. They aren’t, because they’ve made a choice, a choice derived from their internal behaviour patterns of what they really want and matters most to them.

OMG! It made me like that post

I 100% believe if we look within, understand our intent with the use of technology and the connection we want to have with the digital world then we can create a positive experience. 

Yet, if you don’t have a good relationship with yourself, if your behaviour patterns, desires, wants and needs are all over the place, then of course you’ll probably find yourself lurking on Instagram for half a day wishing you had those washboard abs (which are probably photo shopped) or that lavish house (which has secretly been rented for the photo opp).

What it comes down to as you’ve probably guessed by now, is the choice we make.

We make the choice to pick up our devices and set the intent for that experience in that moment. Whether good or bad, we influence that from the moment we access our phone. I’m not saying it’s simple to control, because it’s not. But it is within our control.

So before we all jump on the bandwagon of phones are evil and social media will be the downfall of our civilisation etc. Let’s think about what we can control – our choices, our behaviour, our intent.

Phones are cool. They allow us to do things we never imagined possible at one stage. They can be a tool for good, for connection, for happiness, for creativity and so much more. But they can also screw you up, make you feel like shit and act like you’re a crack addict, yet that choice is yours.

Instead of demonizing phones and technology all the time, should we not look inwards to our own behaviours which have led us to create these experiences?

Remember your phone is not trying to kill you, but maybe you are.

Before you go… 👋

If you like my writing and think “Hey, I’d like to hear more of what this guy has to say” then you’re in luck.

You can subscribe to my newsletter here or below.

Success! You're on the list.

You might also like

Thoughts on why we keep doing stupid shit

When did we forget how to connect with each other

8 replies on “Your phone is not trying to kill you”

Very interesting post, I appreciate anyone who encourages us to think about our own behaviours and I think you are so right when it comes to our relationship with technology. It did put me in mind of Cal Newport’s work – have you come across it? He isn’t quite as extreme as ‘your phone’s trying to kill you’, and does recognise there are positives that digital technology has brought about, but he does also question whether we need to use it for everything that we currently do, and encourages people to think about what they really need it for (he is all for digital minimalism). It’d be interesting to hear your thoughts on his work, if you’ve come across it.

Thanks Carol. I’m not overly familiar with all of Cal’s work but I’ve heard him speak on the Tim Ferriss and Minimalists podcasts before. The relationship with technology is always an interesting and ever evolving conversation for me.

As with any thing in life there are positives and negatives but our intent is a big driver in that. I see tech as a force for good but I’m also very conscious of the need to moderate and manage it.

Cal’s book, Deep Work is on my list to read. So, I’m keen to learn a bit more about his thoughts.

Deep Work is fantastic. It definitely made me reconsider how I structure my working day in order to make time for the tasks that require ‘deep work’ (I’m a Content Writer, so it’s important, yet hard at times, to find meaningful time for the writing, something I’m sure you can relate to) Overall, it gave me a lot of food for thought. I hope you enjoy it when you get to it!

Leave a Reply