Stoner vs Smartphoner: Examining compulsions and finding they're not what you'd think

Updated Nov 24 2020
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There are two legal substances in this photo. I exhibit habitual, compulsive behaviors around one of them.

UPDATE 2020: This writing has been migrated to The Afterglow, my members-only private publication.

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  1. Well now I know how I am spending the rest of my morning. Reading through all this links.

    I actually truely appreciate knowing I am not the only one who spends a lot (a lot alot) of time researching addiction and behavior.

    Thank you.

    • One thing I'm being careful with here is using the word "addiction"… I'm comfortable with saying I have compulsive and habitual behaviors, but addiction gets into a pretty serious realm of behavior that I don't have that much first-person experience with. I have family members who've been in 12 step programs for decades, and so I have profound respect for the recovery community… and I don't want to pretend I have more knowledge about the horrors of addiction than I do.

  2. I actually have most of my notifications silenced on my phone for this very reason. I used to get that ping of anxiety from the notifications (Sorry if I'm slow to respond on Slack sometimes!).

    Adding on to that, I uninstalled Facebook, Twitter and a few other apps last month. Why? I don't need to constantly be notified or lose track of time scrolling through the same thing day in and day out. I still use Facebook via Chrome on my phone, but it can't push notifications and I don't have an urge to check it all of the time.

    I still find myself checking other things on my phone quite often, but they are things I'm interested in and don't just look at unconsciously. I can definitely relate though and not having the constant barrage of messages/notifications from apps coming in is nice.

  3. So much yes. Right at the beginning of when smart phones were becoming prolific, I started a super stressful job. A job that encouraged me to use my smart phone to stay connected. I had email pings almost every 15 minutes, 24-7… and it was the most stressed I’d ever been. I lost about 40lbs in three months because I wasn’t eating and was always awake. I knew that the notifications were part of what was stressing me out…. but I had to stay connected and earn brownie points for the new job!!! When I deleted my work email off my phone, my stress decreased by 50%. Needless to say, I only lasted a year, but man – I feel like corporate America took the idea of constant connectivity and ran with it. I wouldn’t doubt we start seeing SERIOUS health issues in a few years from it!

  4. This post is great, thanks! And I just realized I should totally delete my phone’s Facebook app because I keep checking it habitually, and there’s almost never anything new there. Easy fix!

    Twitter-scrolling, on the other hand, is very difficult for me to keep under control because there actually always is something new there every few minutes. I have tried to make rules like “only check social media X number of times a day,” and I always break the rule.

    I also like thinking about this topic because I’m a professor, and though I hate to see my students glancing at unrelated material on their phones in class, I do recognize that for many of them, the behavior is compulsive/habitual and difficult to stop even if they want to.

  5. Thank you! I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I have really noticed my attention span dwindling in the last few years, and it's really started to bother me. I already keep my phone on silent all the time, but as you said, I still reach for it for no reason, just to see if I've received any notifications. I think you just inspired me to remove Facebook from my phone, at least temporarily.

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