I remember the day I got my first smartphone. Upgrading from a “dumb phone,” I was dazzled. Crisp and clear pictures. Email and calendar in one place. Ready access to Twitter, Facebook, and any search engine I wanted. In the words of the AT&T ad, I could now “move at the speed of instantly.”
But as the months went on, I realized my smartphone was not a neutral tool that would leave my life unaffected. My days started to change—sometimes drastically. It began with email. I started checking it almost obsessively. Wake up, turn over, check email. Get coffee, check email. My daughter would ask a question. “Hold on, honey, I’m just finishing this email.”
Then came social media. I could now post pictures directly to Facebook. Yet rarely did I consider whether my 300 “friends” needed to see my weekend family adventures. Twitter became my news source. Even though I clicked on dozens of articles, I noticed I never read them through. My thoughts started to fragment into smaller and smaller pieces. Oddly enough, even though I now held in my hand the key to unparalleled productivity, at the end of the work day I felt a new level of exhaustion.
Tony Reinke’s new book, 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You, makes explicit what many of us feel bubbling under the surface: quietly, subtly, our phones are changing us.
Reinke catalogues the quiet catastrophe he believes our phones are causing. For instance:
We’re distracted. We check our smartphone 85,000 times a year, or once every 4.3 minutes.
We’re a hazard to others. Texting and driving makes us 23 times more likely to get in a car accident.
We crave approval. Each social media moment is another scene in our “incessant ...1