Phone Dope

I forgot my phone the other day. I was gong out to work at a school as a substitute teacher…and I forgot my phone. Instantly, I tried to decide if turning around would be a good idea. Initially, I was feeling so good about the day but now, I was in a cold sweat over the entire issue. Finally, I determined that I could survive the day and went on into school.

I am sure that others have experienced this type of a situation. It is almost as if you “have to get your phone back into your possession right now or you will die.” When you think about it, this is just silly. It doesn’t change the feelings though. This is a dangerous sign about the psychology of our relationship to our devices.

In the 90’s when the mobile phones burst onto the scene, they quickly got into the hands of people far too young to appreciate the responsibility. This was when the primary function was calling. Then came the texting. Now this device was becoming a distraction, particularly in schools. The logical answer was to banish them. Whether or not they disappeared entirely, they certainly had an effect on the school culture. Pay phones disappeared from school lobbies. It was accepted that they would be on the person…just not used until the end of the day.

The evolution to Smart Phones came quickly and yet, even today, we live with the same paradigm. The phones are not accepted in class up to middle school, tolerated in high schools to a point, but their responsible use has never been “taught” beyond the admonishment to “use them responsibly.”

When will schools actually teach what is relevant?

Smart phones, chrome books, iPads, and even that old reliable PC at home have become so commonplace that people don’t even consider the ways in which these devices have access to the most base emotions in our psyche. We scroll, we click, we comment, and then we complain about being hacked, used, or victimized because we have never done the responsible thing and actually taught how these devices access our behaviors.

Even if we take classes in psychology, we never seem to get beyond the knowing to the doing. It is for this reason that politics and fringe groups speak in sound bites, short videos, and images evoking fear and anger that move you from “your” agenda to “theirs”. Why did we have an insurrection? Maybe because we have never taught people to be independent thinkers.

Our scrolling, stopping, reverse scrolling and interacting with posts are recorded and being used to feed more items that we “like” in order to access more dopamine in our brain. The feel good hormone is the same one that was identified in the 60s and where we coined the term “Dope Addicts” for drug users.

Are you a phone dope or are you in control? I can’t really even answer it for myself, but…awareness definitely the first step. Can education on this issue be any more urgent? I don’t think so and schools and government better get on the stick.

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