The wonderful mobile phone! How did we ever manage without it? We rely on it for so many different functions, from calling people, sending text messages, keeping in touch on the latest social media platforms, nosing in on what’s happening in our friends and family’s lives to making quick calculations, checking facts out on google, face timing loved ones and so much more. However, there is also a darker side to this wonderful device and if we are not more mindful it can slowly devolve us.
There was a time when I could spin off about twenty different phone numbers from memory of family and friends, a couple of taxi firms, the local doctor and a takeaway. Nowadays I am lucky if I can remember my partner’s mobile number! We rely on satnavs rather than referring to a map and we google the answer to nearly every question we have rather than researching it.
Don’t get me wrong, technology does have its benefits but aren’t you worried about yours or your child’s dependency on that little handheld device which has almost become an extension of our human body? And here’s something to consider…when that gigantic satellite falls out of the sky will you remember all those important phone numbers? Will you remember how to get from A to B without your Satnav? Will you remember how to add up without using your phone’s calculator? Mobile phones are doing a great job at making us incredibly lazy!
Our phones bring us closer to those who live far away from us, connecting us with people all over the world, but at the same time paradoxically it takes us away from the people who are close to us… right in front of us in fact. The way we communicate is slowly changing and speaking face-to-face will soon become a thing of the past. Feelings are being shared as the latest social media statuses for all to see when they should be being shared with the person involved, and conversations and discussions are being replaced with texts. Is it any wonder relationships don’t seem to go the distance like they once used to?
Texts can be misinterpreted. We can live inside our mind – ask ourselves what messages mean and end up overthinking its meaning. ‘He only put one kiss? She didn’t put any kisses? They used an exclamation. Are they ignoring me?’ Are you seeing the bigger picture of how mobile phones are affecting us psychologically?
In the good ol days of analogue mobiles before touch screens, we sent messages and didn’t know if they had been read; we had to wait patiently for a response. Now you can see when they have been read, see when the person is online, see when they are typing back to you and we have the impatience to ask why they aren’t replying straight away! Heaven forbid they might be on the toilet, driving or in the bath yet we expect people to be answerable and even accountable to their phones. I’ve seen so many arguments caused in relationships where one person thinks their significant other is online when actually they may have just forgot to log off and the app is running in the background, or the actual app itself just doesn’t update immediately. I’ve witnessed this for myself with my own eyes. My partner and I sat down together with our phones using a popular app. He clicked it away yet on my phone he remained ‘online’ for 6 minutes afterwards… another time it said he was online and then I refreshed my phone and it said last online 19 minutes ago!
We are trusting technology instead of trusting the people we are supposed to love and care about. We are being misinformed by apps which are slow to update statuses and programs. In most cases where people have come to me with stress and sleep difficulties the culprit is nearly always their mobile phone usage. Cases of depression include overuse of mobile phones coupled with use of several social media platforms. The person is literally living and breathing through their phone day and night. Some people spend the whole evening with their mobile phone next to them on the sofa, browsing, responding to their phone pinging and they go up to bed, place it on the side of their bedside table where it continues to ping and light up through the night and even if it is placed on silent, it will still emit a slight glow which can interfere with our sleep.
We are constantly being bombarded with images, advertising, statuses and feeds with alarming news. It’s hard to keep up with everything! Plus staring at a tiny screen and scrolling through dozens of feeds can cause dizziness, blurred vision, headaches, neck ache or ‘text neck’ from looking down at your phone. Yes, ‘text neck’ is a real thing too!
As a Wellbeing Advisor I am alarmed at the number of young people who are left to their own devices at home. Constantly on their mobiles with their inquisitive minds, exposed to the harsh realities and sensationalised or fabricated news and false information they can so easily stumble across. I recently heard on the radio that Facebook is employing more staff to combat the issue of fake news. I’m dismayed when I work with young girls who have resorted to self-harming because their self-esteem and self-image have been obliterated by posts on social media suggesting what they ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ look like. They are comparing themselves to airbrushed models thinking it is real and shunning their own reflection wishing they were beautiful when they are beautiful exactly as they are. They just have a distorted, unrealistic idea of beauty pressed upon them by social media.
Overuse of your mobile phone is responsible for mental health issues like depression and anxiety. When you have too much or too little of certain chemicals in your brain you develop a chemical imbalance and your brain just does not function the way it should.
Our mobiles are literally devolving us. Technology is amazing but so is your human brain. It is a muscle which needs to be exercised just like any other muscle in your body. It craves new information, it loves working things out, it is your greatest asset. Remember that!
Nurture it, nurture the relationships you have and remind yourself that once in a while you need to disconnect in order to reconnect.
Suze Somerville is a Wellbeing Advisor and Coach experienced in wellbeing practices and personal development including stress and anger management, mental health issues, confidence and esteem to name a few. Suze is an Author and also trained in Mindfulness and Reiki. She runs Wellbeing Workshops for Women, runs her own online business in natural health and wellbeing products. Look out for her next event in Kent and surrounding which can be purchased through Eventbrite. You can contact Suze through Linkedin